Equestrian Employers: NMW Increases Coming into Force 1st April

Upcoming increases to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), means equestrian businesses must adapt to remain compliant and viable.

On the 1st April, the rates of all age bands will rise. There is also a significant change with the age eligibility threshold of the National Living Wage (NLW) being lowered to 21 years:

21 and over £11.44
18-20 years £8.60
Under 18 £6.40
Apprentice rate £6.40


The awareness of the legal right to be paid NMW is the highest it’s ever been.  Grooms are growing in confidence to report employers for non-compliance and employers who underpay their staff face a fine of 200% of the arrears.

The EEA says, “We must update the way the industry operates. We’ve got to streamline the daily running of the yard, including the staffing resource. Could just one groom perform the morning feeding duties, with the rest arriving later? This small change could save an employer a significant amount of their annual wage bill.”

The Minimum Wage is not a choice to pay, it is the law and non-compliance is a prosecutable offence. HMRC has already identified the equestrian sector as one of a high level of non-compliance.

Find out more about the NMW rises here: https://equestrianemployers.org.uk/NMW

A survey recently carried out by the EEA reports;

NMW Survey Highlights;

  • 90% of employers are worried about the rise and lowering of the NLW threshold to 21.
  • 66% of employers will need to pass this cost increase onto clients, 46% will need to reduce the number of hours staff work, and 37% say they decrease the staff headcount.
  • 28% of employers will have to cap wages to NMW only. This is likely to impact the ability to recruit skilled workers even further.
  • 21% of employers may have to close their business as a result of the rise.
  • 58% of employers anticipate not being able to afford to pay their staff at least the NMW in the near future.

The effect on salary bills

  • 37% of employers will have an annual salary bill rise of between £3,000 and £5,000.
  • 17% of employers will have an annual salary bill rise of between £5,000 and £7000.
  • 12% of employers will have an annual salary bill rise of over £15,000.

 The effect on equine welfare

  • 94% of employers anticipated some risk to equine welfare.
  • 56% said that the main risk was the affordability of medical bills.
  • 52% said that the main risk was the affordability of good stabling/grazing upkeep.
  • 46% said that the main risk was the affordability of good quality hay/other feed.

The Equestrian Employers Association offers a complete employment toolkit specifically tailored to the equestrian industry and includes the Contract Creator, Staff Handbook Creator, free downloads, legal documents, advice and access to the Pensions and Payroll service.

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