Over 200 employers have today been named and shamed by government for failing to pay their lowest paid staff the minimum wage.
The 208 employers were found to have failed to pay their workers £1.2 million in a clear breach of National Minimum Wage law, leaving around 12,000 workers out of pocket.
Companies being named today range from multinational businesses and large high street names to SMEs and sole traders, in a clear message that no employer is exempt from paying their workers the statutory minimum wage.
These businesses have since had to pay back what they owe to staff and also face significant financial penalties of up to 200% of what was owed, which are paid to the government. The investigations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs concluded between 2014 and 2019.
Minister for Labour Markets Paul Scully said, “We want workers to know that we’re on their side and they must be treated fairly by their employers, which is why paying the legal minimum wage should be non-negotiable for businesses.”
“Today’s 208 businesses, whatever their size, should know better than to short-change hard-working employees, regardless of whether it was intentional or not.
“With Christmas fast approaching, it’s more important than ever that cash is not withheld from the pockets of workers. So don’t be a scrooge – pay your staff properly.”
The employers named today previously underpaid workers in the following ways:
- 37% Deductions that reduce minimum wage pay e.g. workers out of pocket to comply with the dress code
- 29% Unpaid working time e.g. mandatory training, trial shifts or travel time
- 16% Failing to pay the correct rate to apprentices
- 11% Not increasing NMW pay in line with government rises, or paying the wrong minimum wage rate, e.g. paying a 23 year old the 21-22 year old rate
The government is determined to make work pay, having recently announced a significant rise to the National Living Wage from April 2022. This will lead to a pay rise for some of the lowest paid workers in the UK, with workers on the National Living Wage seeing a 6.6% increase to £9.50 an hour. This is the biggest increase to the National Living Wage since its introduction and keeps the Government on track to achieve its manifesto commitment for the NLW to equal two-thirds of median earnings by 2024.
Whilst not all minimum wage underpayments are intentional, there is no excuse for underpaying workers. Clear guidance for employers on pay is available on gov.uk., and today the government has published additional advice about breaches and the steps employers should take to make sure they pay their workers correctly.
The government has been clear that anyone entitled to be paid the minimum wage should receive it, and that robust enforcement action will be taken against employers who do not pay their staff correctly. Since 2015, the budget for minimum wage enforcement has doubled with the government having ordered employers to repay over £100 million to 1 million workers.
HMRC consider all complaints from workers, so workers are being reminded to check their pay with advice available through the HMRC Check your pay website.
Bryan Sanderson Chair of the Low Pay Commission said, “The minimum wage is a success story welcomed by employees and employers alike, but it only works if everyone without exception obeys the law. We hope this latest naming round can continue to raise awareness of the most common mistakes businesses make and help protect low-paid workers from unfair treatment.”