HMRC has published details of 360 businesses in the latest release of its national minimum wage (NMW) ‘naming and shaming’ campaign – the largest number since the scheme started in 2013.
Collectively, the businesses had underpaid 15,520 workers by a sum of £995,223. As well as ensuring the underpaid workers receive back pay, HMRC has issued £800,000 in penalties. For the first time the list included employers who failed to pay eligible workers at least the new national living wage rate (currently £7.20 per hour for workers aged 25 or over).
The latest list includes companies from a wide range of sectors. It shows that Debenhams Retail plc had failed to pay £134,894.83 to 11,858 workers. But it also includes far smaller local firms, among them recruitment consultants, care homes, hair salons, hotels, bakeries, car repair businesses, window cleaners, golf clubs, plumbers, carpenters, restaurants, cafes, dry cleaners, estate agents and window companies.
Excuses for underpaying workers included:
- Using tips to top up pay.
- Obliging staff to pay for their own uniforms out of their salary.
- Cutting workers’ wages to pay for their Christmas party.
The latest release comes weeks after the government launched a £1.7 million national minimum and living wage awareness-raising campaign to encourage the UK’s lowest paid workers to check they are being paid the correct rates, and to report their employer if they are not.
Since the scheme started, over 1,000 employers have been named and shamed and collectively fined over £2 million. HMRC is currently investigating a further 1,500 cases.
Is your business accidentally paying below the minimum wage?
The employment status of staff such as apprentices, interns and directors can be uncertain, and employers must be careful not to accidentally underpay them.
As well as being publicly named and shamed by HMRC, employers that fail to pay their workers the national minimum wage could face fines of up to £20,000.