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Workers are not confident in approaching their employer over salaries

by LLB Reporter
8th Apr 19 1:01 am

Almost one in five (15%) young workers (16 to 24-year olds) do not receive a payslip and one in ten (10%) older workers (25 to 34-year olds) also do not receive a payslip, according to a poll published this week. Nearly a third (32%) of young workers (16 to 24-year olds) wrongly think that only people in permanent roles are entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW), compared with roughly one in ten (14%) of those over 55.

News comes a week after the NMW rose to £8.21 and younger workers saw above inflation increases to the NMW rates. Today also marks the start of new legislation, entitling all workers to a payslip and closing a loophole to ensure the small number not previously eligible now are.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is encouraging all workers to check their payslips, with tips on the best ways to do this.

We interviewed 2,001 workers aged between 16 and 64 between 14 and 25 March. The poll explored awareness of the NMW rates and understanding around a payslip. It also examined confidence levels of workers querying their pay.

Top findings were:


  • Around a third (30%) of all respondents wrongly believe that only people in permanent roles are entitled to NMW.
  • This lack of awareness decreases with age, as nearly a third (32%) of young workers (16-24) wrongly thinking that only people in permanent roles are entitled to NMW, compared with roughly one in ten (14%) of those over 55.
  • Workers in Scotland are less aware, more than one in ten (12%) wrongly believed that all workers and employees, apart from the self-employed, are not entitled to NMW, compared to the national average of 8%.


  • Although nearly all (99%) workers who received and checked their payslip understood at least some of it, only 62% understood all of it.
  • The disparity amongst genders is more apparent. Seven in ten (70%) men across Great Britain who receive a payslip and check it said they understand all sections of their payslip, compared to roughly half (55%) of female respondents who said they understand all of it.
  • Nine percent (9%) of young workers aged 16 to 24-year olds who received and checked their payslip do not understand most or all of their payslip, while 2% of older workers aged over 55-years claim not to understand most of it.


  • When asked how confident workers feel in approaching their employer to make sure they are getting the amount of pay they are entitled, female respondents are, on average less confident than men. More than one in ten (12%) women said they were not confident compared to just 5% of men, suggesting that women are twice as likely not to query their pay.
  • More than one in ten (13%) 16 to 24-year olds said they were not confident about approaching their employer, compared with just 6% of over 55-year olds.
  • Almost one in five (16%) respondents in West Midlands said they were not confident about querying their pay with their employer, compared to 3% of Scottish workers.


  • Matthew Taylor’s Good Work Plan report was published in July 2017 and focused on key areas including employment status, working conditions and work-life balance. It states that the introduction of the NMW is lifting the earnings of those in the lowest paid jobs.
  • In February 2018, Government responded to the Taylor Review of impact modern working practices stating that good pay is one of the five principles that underpin the quality of work. The Good Work Plan published on 17 December also highlights the importance of the NMW for those aged 25 and over as a means to end low pay.
  • The National Living and Minimum Wage campaign supports the Government’s Industrial Strategy commitment for better workplaces in the UK where workers are clear and informed about their rights and employers understand the benefits of a refreshed, happy and productive workforce.  It supports the prime minister’s priority of creating a fairer society, which in turn supports the aim of a stronger economy and a labour market that works for everyone.
  • Workers aged 25 and over are legally entitled to at least the NLW. Workers aged under 25 are legally entitled to at least the NMW.
    From 1 April the NLW and NMW rates are increasing. Workers are being encouraged to check their pay to make sure they are getting the right amount. Find out more here and see table below.
  • The rates increase on 1 April 2019 and are expected to benefit approximately 2.1m people. For full-time workers earning NLW, this will increase their wages by £690 per year.
  • From 6 April 2019 all workers, including casual and zero-hour workers, are entitled to a payslip. If paid hourly, payslip will show how many hours worked and make it easier for employees to check they are being paid the legal minimum. Check your pay.
  • It is estimated 290,000 workers will become eligible for payslips. The onus is on employers to make sure they receive one.
  • It is compulsory for employers to pay the right wage rate. Employers are breaking the law if they don’t pay the national minimum wage and can be fined up to twice the total wage shortfall, subject to a maximum of £20,000 per worker.
  • The Government has this month launched a new £1m advertising campaign to raise awareness of the National Living and Minimum Wage rates to workers and employers.
  • The campaign, which encourages workers to check their pay, includes advertising on billboard posters at bus shelters and in shopping malls as well as on social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. The adverts are part of the government’s ongoing ‘A Fair Workplace’ campaign, which is designed to highlight a range of workplace rights to help workers understand what they are entitled to and ensure businesses comply with the law.
  • For more information visit: gov.uk/checkyourpay

The National Living and Minimum Wage

Age Minimum hourly rate 2018-19 (previous rate) Minimum hourly rate 2019-20 (new rate) Percentage increase
25 and over £7.83 £8.21 4.9%
21 to 24 £7.38 £7.70 4.3%
18 to 20 £5.90 £6.15 4.2%
Under 18 £4.20 £4.35 3.6%
Apprentice £3.70 £3.90 5.4%


Third party quotes

Gillian Howard, LLB Dip Comp Law said, “Workers may not check their payslip regularly because they are trusting their employer has got their pay and deductions correct. This may not be the case either because payroll has the wrong information or they have misunderstood the wages and allowances.

“It is essential to check your payslips every week or month to make sure the pay from your employer is absolutely correct.

“If you think you have not been paid the amount you are entitled to, or you don’t understand the amounts paid and deductions made speak to your employer and ask for the gross and net figures and how and what deductions have been made.”

John Palmer, senior advisor at Acas said, “Workers should check their payslips to ensure they are getting paid at the new national minimum or living wage rates.

“Employers are breaking the law if they don’t pay the national minimum or living wage and businesses face a maximum fine of £20,000 per worker for not paying.

“Acas has free advice for both employers and employees on the correct national minimum and living wage rates and advice for workers on what they can do if they feel that they are not being paid correctly.”

Andrew Johnson, advice manager at the Money and Pensions Service said, “It’s really important that people are engaged with their money and understand their wages, so they can make informed financial decisions. The changes in April 2019 to the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage are a positive step towards this. New legislation requires all employers to provide an itemised pay slip, and where your pay varies, the hours you have worked. This will make it easier to check your hourly rate and make sure you’re being paid the correct minimum wage for your age.

“It’s still important to check your pay slip regularly, and if you don’t understand it or think there might be a mistake, speak to someone in the payroll section of your company. You can also visit the Money Advice Service website which has a guide to help you understand your pay slip.”

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