Managing Your Cash Flow

Record fines for employers named and shamed by HMRC for underpaying workers

3 min read

06 July 2018

Former special projects journalist

The latest list of employers underpaying workers has been announced, and has generated record fines of £1.97 million.

HMRC has today announced a list naming and shaming 239 employers which have been found to have underpaid UK workers.

The back pay totalled £1.44 million across 22,400 workers, more than any other previous single naming list, and has generated record fines of £1.97 million.

Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “Our priority is making sure workers know their rights and are getting the pay they worked hard for. Employers who don’t do the right thing face fines as well as being hit with the bill for back pay.

“The UK’s lowest paid workers have had the fastest wage growth in 20 years thanks to the introduction of the National Living Wage and today’s list serves as a reminder to all employers to check they are getting their workers’ pay right.”

The top five reasons for underpaying staff in this list included:

  • Deducting from wages for items such as uniforms
  • Underpaying apprentices
  • Not paying for travel time
  • Misusing the accommodation offset (whereby accommodation provided by an employer can be taken into account when calculating the National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage)
  • Using the wrong time periods for calculating pay.

The National Living Wage increased by 4.4% from £7.50 to £7.83 for workers aged 25 and over in April this year – although the rates differ for younger workers and apprentices.

Employers who underpay the minimum wage rates can be faced with fines of 200% of the back pay they owe.

Of course, for some businesses, an increase in the National Minimum Wage is having an unpleasant effect on their bottom lines.

Neil Davies, CEO of Close Brothers Asset Finance, explained:

“With the review happening annually, the rise should come as no surprise. For many fore warned is fore armed with the additional costs being factored into their forecasts. That said, the profitability for 50% of businesses will be adversely affected with our research clearly demonstrating the ‘pain’ being felt most by firms employing between 11 and 250 people.

“Those on the smaller and larger end of the size scale – both in turnover and number of employees  seem to be better insulated from the impact of the minimum pay rise.”

If you are unsure whether you are complying with minimum wage laws, HMRC has produced a series of webinars to help you make sense of it.