Employers failing to pay correct wages are fined
Deducting pay to cover uniforms, paying the wrong wage to apprentices and failing to account for overtime were among the most common excuses given by employers who have been identified as underpaying staff.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) discovered that 233 companies failed to pay more than 13,000 staff the national minimum wage (NMW), amounting to a total shortfall of nearly £2m.
Argos were found to owe nearly £1.5m to their staff and retailers, hospitality businesses and hairdressers were among those companies most likely to have incorrectly paid staff.
The businesses have been forced to refund the unpaid wages to the staff concerned but have also been fined t a total of £1.9m.
The government revamped its naming and shaming scheme for employers that fail to pay the required minimum wage in October 2013. Since then, it has identified £6m of back pay due to 40,000 people and fined 1,200 businesses £4m. HMRC is currently investigating around 2,000 cases of underpaid wages.
It has also been revealed that one in five apprentices did not receive their mandatory minimum wage in 2016. At present, apprentices are entitled to £3.50 per hour if they are under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship. After this, they should be paid the rate of NMW for their age group.
The NLW, which applies to those aged 25 and over, is currently £7.50.