U.K.: Government Cracks Down on Minimum Wage Violations

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By Rick Vollmar

Feb. 27—Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs is continuing its crackdown on employers failing to comply with minimum wage regulations and to date has publicly named 162 corporate violators, which together are nearly half a million pounds ($772,000) in arrears in their wage payments and have been charged a cumulative 70,000 pounds ($108,000) in penalties, the Department for Business Innovation & Skills announced in a Feb. 24 release. To support the minimum wage crackdown, the government will be increasing HMRC’s 9.2 million pound ($14.2 million) enforcement budget by a further 3 million pounds ($4.6 million) to fund the hiring of more than 70 additional compliance officers.

The BIS has been publicly naming employers not in compliance with minimum wage regulations since Jan. 1, 2011.

‘Illegal and Immoral'

“Paying less than the minimum wage is illegal, immoral and completely unacceptable,” Business Minister Jo Swinson said in the BIS release. “Naming and shaming gives a clear warning to employers who ignore the rules that they will face reputational consequences as well as financial penalties of up to 20,000 pounds [$31,000] if they don’t pay the minimum wage.”

“We are helping workers recover the hundreds of thousands of pounds in pay owed to them as well as raising awareness to make sure workers are paid fairly in the first place,” Swinson added.

The current hourly minimum wage rates are 6.50 pounds ($10) for adults 21 years of age and older, 5.13 pounds ($8) for workers 18 to 20 years old, 3.79 pounds ($6) for workers 16 and 17 years old, and 2.73 pounds ($4) for apprentices 16 to 18 years of age or 19 and over in their first year of employment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

The BIS press release is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-names-and-shames-largest-ever-number-of-national-minimum-wage-offenders, guidance on calculating the minimum wage at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/407989/bis-15-169-calculating-the-minimum-wage.pdf, and an HMRC policy statement on minimum wage enforcement at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/376393/bis-14-1225-national-minimum-wage-policy-on-hm-revenue-and-customs-enforcement-prosecutions-and-naming-employers-who-break-national-minimum-wage-law-r1_.pdf.

For more information on British HR law and regulation, see the U.K. primer.