Record £15.6m underpayment identified for workers on the minimum wage

Record £15.6m underpayment identified for workers on the minimum wage

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has identified £15.6million worth of underpayments for more than 200,000 workers who are receiving less than the minimum wage - reports.

The number of workers identified as underpaid was double that in 2016/17 and the highest number since the National Minimum Wage came into force.

More than 600 employers underpaid their workers less than the minimum wage in 2017/18 and have since been publicly named.

HMRC ramp up efforts to improve employer awareness

The rise in the number of cases has ramped up HMRC efforts to promote compliance and improve employer awareness of the minimum wage.

Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst says that they are dedicated to stopping underpayment of the minimum wage. “Employers must recognise their responsibilities and pay their workers the money they are entitled to," she said.

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"The UK’s lowest paid workers have had the fastest wage growth in 20 years thanks to the National Living Wage and today’s figures serve as a reminder to all employers to check they are getting their workers’ pay right.”

Employers taking advantage of the HMRC pilot scheme

Over the past year, more than 56 employers took advantage of a HMRC pilot scheme which encouraged employers to come forward outside of the investigation and tackle their underpayments at an earlier stage. This resulted in almost 350,000 in debts being declared for just under 700 workers.

This year, the social care, retail, commercial warehousing and gig economy sectors have been the pinnacle of HMRC’s concentration for enforcement of the minimum wage. Widespread non-compliance of the National Minimum Wage is believed to be more prevalent in those sectors.

What is the National Minimum Wage?

According to Acas, the National Minimum Wage is the minimum pay per hour that workers are entitled to by law. The rate is dependent on age and is also determined by apprenticeship status.

Below, is a table showing a worker’s legal pay dependent on their age…

Date of rate

25 and over

21 to 24

18 to 20

Under 18


From April 2017 to
March 2018






From October 2016 to
March 2017






From April 2016 to
September 2016






Penny Ciniewicz, HMRC Director General of Customer Compliance, agrees that HMRC are committed to ensuring that workers receive the wages that they are legally entitled to. “If anyone thinks they are not receiving at least the minimum wage, they can contact the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100 in confidence or submit a query online through our complaints form,” she said.

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