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HMRC internal manual

National Minimum Wage Manual

Issuing notices of underpayment: enforcement policy

National minimum wage enforcement policy underpins national minimum wage legislation (NMWM01030). It aims to:

  • encourage employers to voluntarily comply, so that workers are paid their legal entitlement at the right time;
  • change the behaviour of employers by deterring potential non compliance;
  • protect vulnerable workers by penalising employers who fail to pay the national minimum wage on time;
  • ensure workers who are not paid on time receive arrears which take into account the length of time they have been underpaid;
  • prevent employers gaining a competitive advantage over other businesses by unlawfully depressing workers’ pay;
  • demonstrate to the business community that non compliance with national minimum wage legislation is unacceptable.

The policy:

  • sets out when a notice of underpayment should be issued (NMWM13030) and when this should penalise non compliant employers by imposing a penalty (NMWM13180);
  • establishes a civil enforcement regime if arrears and/or penalties remain outstanding;
  • makes provision for criminal prosecutions for the more serious cases of non compliance.

The Policy on HM Revenue & Customs enforcement and prosecutions is published by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (NMWM02020) and can be found on GOV.UK.

Prior to 6 April 2009, enforcement notices and penalty notices were issued to enforce payment of national minimum wage arrears (NMWM13320).