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Travelling between assignments whilst at work should be counted as working time

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Many workers are unaware that time spent travelling between assignments for their job should be counted as working time, a poll has revealed.

Employers should be aware of issues around paid travel time as there is renewed focus on National Minimum/ Living Wage compliance.

This coincides with the Government’s NMW/NLW campaign following the increase in the rates on 1 April 2019 and the subsequent initiative encouraging people to check they are being paid what they are entitled to, after new payslip legislation was introduced.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is encouraging workers who may be at risk of not being paid correctly to speak to their employer or make a complaint to HMRC.

Legislation makes clear time spent travelling for the purpose of working (for example between different assignments) qualifies for the national minimum wage. However, travelling time between home and work does not qualify.

Key findings

More than a third (39%) of the working population wrongly think NMW/NLW should not be paid for the time they spend travelling during working hours. This is according to a recent independent poll of 2,001 people conducted online by Kantar Public, on behalf of the BEIS.

Older workers were more likely to think this, with 31% aged 16 to 24 thinking that travel-for-work time does not qualify for the national minimum wage, compared to 52% of those aged 55 to 64.

The contrast amongst genders is even more stark. More than half (54%) of men believe the NMW should be paid for the time they spend travelling during working hours, compared to just 36% of women.

The poll also explored awareness of the NMW/NLW rates and payslip understanding and how confident workers were in querying their pay with their employer. BEIS is encouraging all workers to check their payslips, with advice on the best way to handle any potential NMW irregularities.

What is Government doing to help workers?

  • HM Revenue and Customs has identified £24.4m in back pay for more than 220,000 workers who did not receive the minimum wage, up from £15.6m last year, and issued £17m in financial penalties to employers who breached the rules.
  • 2018 was a record year for enforcement, with money owed to workers the highest since National Minimum Wage was introduced in 1999.
  • Since the introduction of NMW, the government has ordered employers to repay over £118m to 835,000 workers, issued over £40m in financial penalties and completed over 78,000 investigations.
  • The Government has doubled HMRC’s budget to enforce the National Minimum/ Living wage since 2015.
  • Government has committed £26m for minimum wage enforcement in 2018/19 and launched a £1m awareness campaign for workers this year.
  • In April 2016 the Government introduced tougher penalties for employers who break the rules: making them liable to be charged up to 200% of the wage arrears owed to workers.

Kelly Tolhurst, business minister said, “We are leaving no stone unturned and are cracking down on employers who fail to pay the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage.

“All workers deserve a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work and, as our latest figures demonstrate, we are recouping more money than ever before for people that have not been paid correctly.

“Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we are determined to end low pay and boost the earning power of people right across the country.

“Our minimum wage rates are amongst the highest in the world and today’s figures are a reminder to all employers to check they are paying their workers correctly.”

Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury & minister responsible for HMRC said, “The latest minimum wage enforcement statistics show that HMRC remains firmly committed to ensuring that all workers receive the wages they are legally entitled to, irrespective of their employer’s size or business sector. We’re proud of the work done at HMRC in this space and will continue to support it this year.”

Jane Gratton, head of business environment and skills at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said, “Many businesses already pay above the National Minimum/ Living Wage, but it’s crucial that all employers are aware of the recent changes to wage rates and check to ensure they remain fully compliant with the legislation.

“The increase in the NMW/ NLW will impact on businesses across a variety of sectors and regions, and firms need to review their systems to ensure they are meeting their responsibilities to employees.

“While it’s been a time of great change and uncertainty for UK business communities, the importance of staying compliant and avoiding the possibility of penalties has not diminished.”




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