£4.6m paid out to 22,000 staff in minimum wage arrears


More than £4.6 million has been paid to more than 22,000 employees in wage arrears following investigations by HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) national minimum wage enforcement teams.

In the past year, HMRC has conducted 1,455 investigations and issued 652 financial penalties worth £815,269.

HMRC found arrears in 47% of cases and recovered an average of around £205 in wage arrears per worker.

The investigations found a Premier League football club guilty of paying catering employees less than the national minimum wage of £6.31 an hour.

HMRC ordered the unnamed club to pay arrears of more than £27,500 to 3,000 employees, after it deducted the cost of their uniforms and travelling time from their pay packets.

A social care provider has also been penalised by HMRC for refusing to pay staff for the time it takes them to travel between appointments. It has been told to repay more than £600,000 in wage arrears.

Other examples include:

  • A recruitment agency, which has been ordered to pay more than £167,000 to employees, including some it had classified as unpaid interns.
  • A multi-outlet retailer, which required its employees to attend work before and after opening hours without pay, has been ordered to repay almost £77,000 to more than 1,300 workers.

In March, the government named and shamed five employers that failed to pay the minimum wage.

Jenny Willott, business minister, said: “Paying less than the minimum wage is illegal and, as HMRC’s record shows, if employers break the law, they will face tough consequences.

“We want to issue a clear warning to employers that fail to pay the minimum wage. Under the government’s new rules [they] will be named and shamed and face a stiff financial penalty.

“If anyone suspects they are not being paid the wage they are legally entitled to, they should call the Pay and Work Rights helpline.”

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, added: “It is shocking that so many employers, including some that pay their star players millions of pounds a year, are cheating low-paid workers out of the minimum wage.

“The penalties won by HMRC, which the government has rightly decided should be even bigger, should be a clear deterrent to any employer thinking about short changing their staff. We also need to see more of these immoral organisations named and shamed.

“HMRC staff deserve credit for winning back millions of pounds for cheated employees, but they need greater resources to catch the many minimum wage crooks still out there.”