HR · 8 December 2017

16,000 workers compensated as government steps up minimum wage enforcement

bar owner
Hospitality workers were amongst those underpaid

The government has identified £1.7m in back pay owed to some 16,000 workers, by employers who’ve failed to abide by minimum wage rules.

In the widest round of employer “naming and shaming” to date, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has named and fined 260 UK employers a total of £1.3m for underpaying workers.

Employers in the hairdressing, hospitality and retail sectors were among the worst offending businesses in this round of naming and shaming.

Common excuses given for failing to pay staff at least minimum wage rates included deducting money from pay for worker’s’ uniforms, failing to pay overtime and failing to pay employees whilst travelling between jobs.

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Small business minister Margot James said: “There is no excuse for not paying staff the wages they’re entitled to and the government will come down hard on businesses that break the rules.”

Since 2013, the government’s department for business has worked alongside the Low Pay Commission to pressure (mainly) larger employers comply with its minimum wage rules.

In that time, a total of £8m in back pay has been identified for some 58,000 staff members, and 1,500 employers have been fined a total of £5m. In2017, a record £25.3m will have been spent on minimum wage enforcement, the government has claimed.

Chairman of the Low Pay Commission, Bryan Sanderson, said that the statistics proved the government’s strategy was working. He added: “It is good to see that HMRC continues to target large employers who have underpaid a large number of workers, as well as cases involving only a few workers, where workers are at risk of the most serious exploitation.

“It is imperative that the government keeps up the pressure on all employers who commit breaches of minimum wage law.”

Minimum wage rates are due to rise again in April 2018. The government has instructed any worker concerned that they’re not being paid the correct amount can seek advice from workplace body Acas.

Welcoming the news, James went on to say: “Today we are naming hundreds of employers who have been short changing their workers; and to ensure there are consequences for their wallets as well as their reputation, we’ve levied millions in back pay and fines.”

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.