Online complaints’ service has increased claims from underpaid workers

An online complaints service has helped to double the number of underpaid workers recouping money from their employers, according to new statistics. In 2017-18, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) identified £15.6 million in wages owed to 200,000 low-paid workers. Workers can either contact ACAS or complete an HMRC online form which the government says has contributed to the increase in complaints.

Many businesses have misunderstood the national minimum wage rules and the average amount refunded last year was £78. On top of the refunds, employers also face fines of up to 200% of the arrears and public ‘naming and shaming’.

The points below may help reduce the risk of minimum wage breaches:

  1. Pay workers no less than the legal minimum for their age and update this amount when the rate rises each April.
  2. Ensure hourly earnings are averaged over their pay period so that they add up to at least the minimum wage.
  3. Reimburse for any uniform if their average earnings in that pay period would end up below the legal threshold. Unbranded items such as black trousers, skirts or shoes and discounted clothing from a retailer’s own range count as uniform.
  4. Pay for all of the time workers are expected to be in work, even if they are not physically working: training time, security checks at the end of the day, travelling between assignments all count as working time.
  5. Exclude any income from tips when working out the legal minimum.

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