Nearly 240 employers in the UK have underpaid staff the National Living and Minimum Wage, according to new figures released by the HMRC.
It means that £1.44m has been identified for 22,400 workers, with their employers fined an additional £1.97m. The companies have been ‘named and shamed’ by the HMRC [LINK – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/record-22400-minimum-wage-workers-to-receive-millions-in-backpay].
The earliest underpayment dated back to 2011, with the most recent happening this year (2018). Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “Our priority is making sure workers know their rights and are getting the pay they worked hard for. Employers who don’t do the right thing face fines as well as being hit with the bill for backpay.
“The UK’s lowest paid workers have had the fastest wage growth in 20 years thanks to the introduction of the National Living Wage and today’s list serves as a reminder to all employers to check they are getting their workers’ pay right.”
The top five reasons for National Minimum and Living Wage underpayments in this round were:
- Taking deductions from wages for costs such as uniforms
- Underpaying apprentices
- Failing to pay travel time
- Misusing the accommodation offset
- Using the wrong time periods for calculating pay
Low Pay Commission Chairman Bryan Sanderson added: “It is crucial that employers understand their responsibilities and workers know their rights around the minimum wage. That is why active enforcement and effective communication from Government is so important.
“It is therefore encouraging to see that HMRC has recovered unpaid wages for the largest number of workers yet in this round of naming and shaming. I’m confident that the Government will continue to pursue underpayment of the minimum wage vigorously.”
Funding for minimum wage enforcement has more than doubled since 2015, with the Government set to spend £26.3m in 2018/19. The scheme is in its fifth year and calls out employers who have fallen foul of minimum wage laws, so far identifying £10.8m in back pay for around 90,000 workers, with more than 1,900 employers fined a total of £8.4m.
Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back arrears of wages to the worker at current minimum wage rates and face financial penalties of up to 200 per cent of arrears, capped at £20,000 per worker.