HM Revenue and Customs discovered more than £15 million in national minimum wage underpayments in 2017/18, the highest ever recorded.
According to the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics, more than 200,000 workers were found to be owed by their employer in 2017/18 – the highest number since the National Minimum Wage has been enforced in 1999. More significantly, the number has doubled since the previous year.Over 600 companies were named and shamed for underpaying their employees an average of £6,500, another record high. They amount owed to staff must be paid back at the current national minimum wage rate and the businesses in dispute will face penalties of up to 200% of arrears, capped at £20,000 per worker. Employers were collectively fined £14m for not meeting the NMW requirements – more than three times the figure for the previous year.
“We are dedicated to stopping underpayment of the minimum wage. Employers must recognise their responsibilities and pay their workers the money they are entitled to,” said business minister Kelly Tolhurst.
“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.”
The government has recently focused its enforcement activities on employers in social care, the gig economy, retail and commercial warehousing – sectors where national minimum wage underpayment is thought to be more widespread.
Bryan Sanderson, Chairman of the Low Pay Commission, said: “All workers are entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage, so it is good to see increased focus on enforcement bearing fruit and securing more arrears for more workers.”
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