Over £4.6 million in wage arrears has been paid to more than 22,000 workers following a successful year for HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) National Minimum Wage (NMW) enforcement teams.
New figures show that, in 2013/14, HMRC:
- conducted 1,455 investigations
- issued 652 financial penalties, worth £815,269
- found arrears in 47 per cent of cases – the highest strike rate since the NMW was introduced
- recovered average arrears of around £205 per worker.
Business Minister Jenny Willott said:
“Paying less than the minimum wage is illegal and, as HMRC’s record shows, if employers break the law they will face tough consequences.
We want to issue a clear warning to employers who fail to pay the minimum wage: under the Government’s new rules you will be named and shamed and face a stiff financial penalty.
If anyone suspects they are not being paid the wage they are legally entitled to, they should call the Pay and Work Rights Helpline.”
Examples of underpayment cases where HMRC has taken action in the past year include:
- A Premier League football club which was ordered to pay arrears of over £27,500 to over 3,000 workers after it made deductions for uniforms and travelling time for staff working in hospitality.
- A social care provider which was found to have not paid its staff for travelling time and other hours worked and was told to repay over £600,000 in arrears of wages to almost 3,000 workers.
- A recruitment agency which was ordered to pay over £167,000 to workers, including some it had classified as unpaid interns.
- A multi-outlet retailer, which required its employees to attend work before and after opening hours without pay, and which was ordered to repay almost £77,000 to more than 1,300 workers.
Jennie Granger, Director of Enforcement and Compliance at HMRC, said:
“Paying the National Minimum Wage is not a choice – it’s the law. HMRC will continue to ensure that workers get at least the wage to which they are legally entitled.
Where an employer ignores these rules, we will ensure that any arrears are paid out in full and the employer is fined. Rogue employers be warned – we will find you and you will pay.”
- The vast majority of National Minimum Wage cases are dealt with using civil penalty powers, as this route is usually the most appropriate and provides the most cost-effective resolution for taxpayers. However, in more severe cases, HMRC will take criminal action and seek a prosecution.
- Anyone who believes they are not being paid the National Minimum Wage can call the Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0800 917 2368.
- Calls to the Helpline from interns who are working for nothing or for “expenses only” are being fast-tracked to HMRC enforcement officers for investigation.