Following investigations by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), a total of £2.1 million was found to be owed to over 34,000 workers.
Named employers have since been made to pay back what they owed and were fined an additional £3.2 million, showing, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said, that it is never acceptable to underpay workers.
Whilst not all minimum wage underpayments are intentional, BEIS acknowledged, it is the responsibility of all employers to abide by the law.
Minimum wage breaches can occur when workers are being paid on or just above the minimum wage rate and then have deductions from their pay for uniform or accommodation.
In the latest list, 47% wrongly deducted pay from workers’ wages in the following ways:
- 30% failed to pay workers for all the time they had worked, such as when they worked overtime; and
- 19% paid the incorrect apprenticeship rate.
Business Minister Paul Scully said: “Our minimum wage laws are there to ensure a fair day’s work gets a fair day’s pay – it is unacceptable for any company to come up short. This Government will continue to protect workers’ rights vigilantly, and employers that short-change workers won’t get off lightly.”
Since 2015, employers have been ordered to repay over £100 million to one million workers.
Those who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back arrears to the worker at current minimum wage rates. They also face financial penalties of up to 200% of the arrears - capped at £20,000 per worker - which are paid to the Government.
Minimum wage law can be tricky. It changes yearly and, most recently, the age threshold for the National Living Wage has been lowered from 25 to 23. However, the Government’s actions continually highlight that the onus remains on employers to ensure that they are keeping in line with the law.
It will not be surprising then if the priority for most, if not all, employers shifts towards seeking further advice on this to avoid the possibility of fines and tribunal claims for unlawful deductions from wages.