Government fines employers for paying less than minimum wage

Nearly 200 businesses have been named and fined for breaking the national minimum wage law, with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) finding that over £2m was owed to workers.

The HMRC investigation found that over 34,000 workers had been paid less than minimum wage in the UK between 2011 and 2018.

The named employers have since been made to pay back what they owed and were fined an additional £3.2m.

The employers were found to have underpaid workers by wrongly deducting pay from workers’ wages, including for uniform and expenses, failing to pay for overtime, and paying the incorrect apprenticeship rate.

person holding brown leather bifold wallet

Business minister, Paul Scully, said: ‘Our minimum wage laws are there to ensure a fair day’s work gets a fair day’s pay – it is unacceptable for any company to come up short. All employers, including those on this list, need to pay workers properly.

‘This government will continue to protect workers’ rights vigilantly, and employers that short-change workers won’t get off lightly.’

Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back arrears of wages to the worker at current minimum wage rates, and they also face financial penalties of up to 200% of arrears, capped at £20,000 per worker, which are paid to the government.

Since 2015, the government has ordered employers to repay over £100m to one million workers.

Among the businesses named in the latest round of fines include John Lewis plc in Westminster, Martin McColl Retail Limited in Brentwood, The Body Shop International Limited in Arun, and One Stop Stores Limited in Walsall.

Chair of the Low Pay Commission, Bryan Sanderson, said: ‘These are very difficult times for all workers, particularly those on low pay who are often undertaking critical tasks in a variety of key sectors including care. The minimum wage provides a crucial level of support and compliance is essential for the benefit of both the recipients and our society as a whole.’

In related news, young people looking to enter the workforce will benefit from £70m of investment from the Scottish government.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya


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