Record £1.4m owed in minimum wage underpayments

A record 22,400 minimum wage workers are to receive a total of £1.4m in backpay, latest HMRC statistics reveal

HMRC has published a list of 239 employers found to have underpaid the national living and minimum wage. The back pay identified by HMRC was for more workers than in any previous single naming list and has generated record fines of £1.97m.

The earliest underpayment dated back to 2011, with the most recent happening this year. The top five reasons were taking deductions from wages for costs such as uniforms; underpaying apprentices; failing to pay travel time; misusing the accommodation offset; and using the wrong time periods for calculating pay.

The largest underpayment, totalling £430,097, was owed to some 10,256 workers at Sportswift Ltd, trading as Card Factory, based in Wakefield.

Some workers were found to be owed substantial amounts, such as the five employees of Orkney and Shetland Charters, who had average arrears of £4,029 per worker.

Other employers who underpaid workers included Bristol City and Doncaster Rovers football clubs, Sussex and Durham cricket clubs, the Oden and UCI Cinema Group in Manchester, and the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute (Naafi), as well as car washes, pubs, hairdressers and care homes.

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 backpay.’

The scheme is in its fifth year and calls out employers who have fallen foul of minimum wage laws, so far identifying £10.8m in back pay for around 90,000 workers, with more than 1,900 employers fined a total of £8.4m.

Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back arrears of wages to the worker at current minimum wage rates and face financial penalties of up to 200% of arrears, capped at £20,000 per worker.

Report by Pat Sweet

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