Press release

200,000 receive back pay as HMRC enforces National Minimum Wage

BEIS and HMRC launch campaign urging underpaid workers to complain as figures show that the number of workers getting the money they're owed has doubled.

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HM Revenue and 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 to 2018, HMRC investigators identified £15.6 million in pay owed to more than a record 200,000 of the UK’s lowest paid workers, and up from £10.9 million for more than 98,000 workers last year.

HMRC launched its online complaints service in January 2017, and this 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 Wage or the National 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.

If you think that you are not receiving at least the minimum wage, you can contact Acas, in confidence, on 0300 123 1100, or submit a query online

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 will not 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.

Further information

  • people not receiving at least the minimum wage can fill in an online pay and work rights complaints form
  • 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
  • see The National Living Wage and Minimum Wage campaign site
  • headline National Minimum Wage enforcement statistics for 2017 to 2018 have been published for the first time in this press release
  • a comprehensive breakdown of National Minimum Wage enforcement statistics will be published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in late summer 2018

National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates

From 1 April 2018, the government’s National Living Wage rate increased by 33p to £7.83 per hour for those aged 25 and over.

The National Minimum Wage increased:

  • by 33p to £7.38 per hour for those aged 21 to 24
  • by 30p to £5.90 per hour for those aged 18 to 20
  • by 15p to £4.20 per hour for those aged 16 to 17
  • by 20p to £3.70 per hour for apprentices
Published 9 May 2018