More than 13,000 of the UK's lowest-paid employees will receive back pay as part of the government's scheme to name and shame employers who don't pay the minimum wage.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently published a list of 233 businesses that had underpaid workers. As well as back-paying staff money they are owed, employers have been fined a record £2m, with retail, hairdressing and hospitality businesses among the worst offenders.
Since 2013, some 40,000 workers have been identified as being owed £6m by their employers, who have been fined £4m.
Business Minister Margot James said: "It's against the law to pay workers less than legal minimum wage rates, short-changing ordinary working people and undercutting honest employers. The latest round of naming identifies a record £2m of back pay for workers and sends the clear message to employers that the government will come down hard on those who break the law.
"Common errors made by employers in this round included deducting money from pay packets to pay for uniforms, failure to account for overtime hours, and wrongly paying apprentice rates to workers."
Melissa Tatton, director at HM Revenue and Customs, said: "HMRC is committed to getting money back into the pockets of underpaid workers and continues to crack down on employers who ignore the law. Those not paying workers the National Minimum or Living Wage can expect to face the consequences," she warned.
Currently, HMRC is investigating more than 2,000 open cases and employers guilty of not paying at least legal minimum wage rates will be named, shamed and fined. The government has committed £25.3m to minimum wage enforcement in 2017 to 2018.
Employers have a duty to be aware of and comply with the different legal national minimum and living wage rates, said the government. The current minimum wage rates are:
- National Living Wage (25 years and over) - £7.50 per hour.
- National Minimum Wage:
- 21 to 24-year-olds - £7.05 per hour;
- 18 to 20-year olds - £5.60 per hour;
- 16 to 17-year-olds - £4.05 per hour.
- Apprentice rate - £3.50 per hour for apprentices under 19, or over 19 and in the first year of an apprenticeship.
If employees believe they are not being paid the correct minimum rates, they can seek advice from (arbitration and mediation service provider) Acas. HMRC will investigate all minimum-wage underpayment complaints it receives from Acas.