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HMRC doubles number of workers receiving back pay by enforcing the National Minimum Wage

Press release   •   May 09, 2018 12:29 BST

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has more than doubled the number of underpaid workers getting the money they’re owed under the National Minimum Wage, according to latest figures.

In 2017/18, HMRC investigators identified £15.6 million in pay that is owed for over a record 200,000 of the UK’s lowest paid workers, up from £10.9 million for over 98,000 workers last year.

HMRC launched their online complaints service in January 2017, which has contributed to the 132% increase in the number of complaints received over the last year and the amount of money HMRC has been able to recoup for those unfairly underpaid.

The figures are published as the Government launches its annual advertising campaign designed to encourage workers to take action if they are not receiving the National Living or Minimum Wage. The online campaign, which runs over the summer, urges underpaid workers to proactively complain by completing an HMRC online form.

The online service is a quick and easy way for anyone with concerns about not being paid the National Minimum Wage to report an employer or former employer anonymously. Industries most complained about to HMRC include restaurants, bars, hotels and hairdressing.

Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said:

“Employers abusing the system and paying under the legal minimum are breaking the law. Short changing workers is a red line for this government and employers who cross the line will be identified by HMRC and forced to pay back every penny and could be hit with fines of up to 200% of wages owed.

“I would urge all workers, if you think you might be being underpaid then you should check your pay and call Acas on 0300 123 1100 for free and confidential advice.”

Penny Ciniewicz, Director General of Customer Compliance at HMRC, said:

“HMRC is committed to getting money back into the pockets of underpaid workers, and these figures demonstrate that we won’t hesitate to take action against employers who ignore the law.

“We urge anyone who is concerned they are not being paid the correct rates to contact us in confidence through the Acas helpline or through our online complaints form.”

Notes for Editors:

1. Online pay and work rights complaints form.

2. The National Minimum Wage is the minimum pay per hour almost all workers are entitled to. It is the responsibility of employers, no matter how big or small, to pay the correct wage to their staff, and failing to do so can result in fines of 200% of the arrears, public naming and, for the worst offences, criminal prosecution.

3. From 1 April 2018: The Government’s National Living Wage rate for those aged 25 and over increased by 33p to £7.83 per hour.

4. For the Government’s National Minimum Wage:

  • the rate for 21 to 24 year olds increased by 33p to £7.38 per hour
  • the rate for 18 to 20 year olds increased by 30p to £5.90 per hour
  • the rate for 16 to 17 year old increased by 15p to £4.20 per hour
  • the apprentice rate increased by 20p to £3.70 per hour

5. If anyone thinks they are not receiving at least the minimum wage, they can contact Acas, in confidence, on 0300 123 1100 or submit a query online.

6. The National Living Wage and Minimum Wage campaign site can be found here

7. Headline National Minimum Wage enforcement statistics for 2017/18 have been published in this press release for the first time. A comprehensive breakdown of National Minimum Wage enforcement statistics will be published by BEIS in late summer 2018. 

8. Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice.

9. HMRC's Flickr channel:

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.