Underpaid workers get £4.6 million in wage arrears

Underpaid workers received more than £4.6 million in minimum wage arrears during 2013/14, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has said.

HMRC's national minimum wage (NMW) enforcement teams recovered arrears for over 22,000 workers in 2013/14.

Over the year, HMRC launched 1,455 investigations into employers suspected of breaching NMW law.

Figures show that, in 2013/14, HMRC:

  • issued 652 fines, worth a total of £815,269
  • found arrears in nearly half (47%) of cases - the highest rate since the NMW was introduced
  • secured an average £205 of arrears per worker.

Business Minister Jenny Willott said:

"Paying less than the minimum wage is illegal and, as HMRC's record shows, if employers break the law they will face tough consequences.

"We want to issue a clear warning to employers who fail to pay the minimum wage: under the Government's new rules you will be named and shamed and face a stiff financial penalty."

Jennie Granger, director of enforcement and compliance at HMRC, said:

"HMRC will continue to ensure that workers get at least the wage to which they are legally entitled.

"Where an employer ignores these rules, we will ensure that any arrears are paid out in full and the employer is fined."

In a bid to tackle NMW abuse, new enforcement powers and increased penalties will be included in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill announced during the Queen's Speech.

Commenting on the Queen's Speech, Katja Hall, deputy director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said:

"All employers should pay the National Minimum Wage, so we would support the introduction of an increased fine for those who intentionally do not, and strong enforcement to ensure that the law is respected."