Press release

Campaign launched to increase low paid workers’ knowledge of national minimum and national living wage rights

Government advertising campaign launches today to raise lowest paid workers’ knowledge of their rights ahead of the National Minimum and National Living Wage rates rise on 1 April

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  • Government advertising campaign goes live across the country today to raise lowest paid workers’ knowledge of their rights ahead of the National Minimum and National Living Wage rates rise on 1 April
  • New poll shows lack of understanding when it comes to being paid, including for travel time and security searches at the start or end of shifts
  • Business Minister Margot James: “We are determined to make sure everybody in work receives a fair wage”

The Government has today launched a nationwide campaign to increase low paid workers’ understanding of their rights around pay.

The national advertising campaign - which will be carried on public transport, in shopping centres and other public places - is being rolled out ahead of the Government’s National Minimum and National Living Wage rates rising on 1 April.

It comes as a new poll for the Government shows many people in low paid work are confused about when they should be paid and what deductions from their pay packets can legally be made.

The poll of more than 1,400 workers earning less than £15,000 found:

  • 69% didn’t know they should be paid for travel time between appointments
  • 57% didn’t know having money deducted from their wages to cover the costs of their uniform is unlawful if it takes their earnings under the National Minimum or National Living Wage
  • 48% didn’t know that tips can’t be used to top up pay to the legal minimum

Some of the most common excuses given to HMRC by employers for underpaying workers include using tips to top up pay to the minimum wage, making staff pay for their uniforms out of their salary which takes them below the legal minimum, not paying for shutting up shop or for time waiting for security checks, or the time spent travelling from one appointment to another.

In light of this, the campaign highlights some of the most common examples when a worker may be underpaid the legal minimum in a bid to encourage workers to check their pay.

Business Minister Margot James said:

“We are determined to make sure everybody in work receives a fair wage and while most employers get it right, there are still a small number who fail to play by the rules. This campaign will raise awareness among the lowest paid people in society about what they must legally receive.

“Anyone who thinks they may be paid less than the legal minimum should contact Acas as soon as possible.”

Jennie Granger, Director General for Customer Compliance at HMRC, said:

“Paying the National Minimum Wage is the law – it’s not a choice. Employers must pay their workers what they’re entitled to and follow the rules.

“We will act to ensure ripped-off workers receive their proper pay and hardworking businesses are not losing out to dodgy dealers who cheat their staff.”

Ahead of 1 April, when the national minimum and living wage rates go up, workers are encouraged to check their pay, speak to their boss about the rate rise and report underpayment to Acas, the independent workplace advisory service.

Stewart Gee, Head of Guidance at Acas, said:

“We welcome this new Government awareness campaign as it is important for employers to stay within the law and for workers to be fully aware of the pay that they are legally entitled to.

Acas has free and impartial advice for both employers and employees on the correct national minimum and living wage rates and advice for workers on what they can do if they feel that they are not being paid correctly.”

Information on the Government’s National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage and to report underpayment.

Notes to editors:

  1. From 1 April 2017: The Government’s National Living Wage rate for those aged 25 and over will increase by 30p to £7.50 per hour.

  2. For the Government’s National Minimum Wage:
    • the rate for 21 to 24 year olds will increase by 10p to £7.05 per hour
    • the rate for 18 to 20 year olds will increase by 5 to £5.60 per hour
    • the rate for 16 to 17 year old will increase by 5p to £4.05 per hour
    • the apprentice rate will increase by 10p to £3.50 per hour
  3. The new rates were been recommended by the independent Low Pay Commission after careful consideration of evidence from both workers and employers.

  4. HMRC enforces the Government’s National Minimum and Living Wage law and over the next year will spend a record £25.3 million on making sure the country’s lowest paid people get the pay they are entitled to.

  5. On 15 February, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy named and shamed a record 359 employers for underpaying workers nearly £1 million.

  6. Polling methodology statement: Populus interviewed a random sample of 1,435 UK adults who are currently working aged 16+ earning less than £15,000 a year from its online panel between 14 and 20 February 2017. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
Published 27 February 2017