Whistleblower minimum wage complaints at lowest level in four years

Whistleblower reports of national minimum wage violations fell to just 2,488 for the past year, down from 2,580 in the previous 12 months. This puts direct complaints for the financial year 2020-21 at the lowest level in four years.

The report published stated that although extensive furlough in hospitality and retail sectors during the pandemic was partly responsible for the decline in numbers, they also showed that employers were getting much better at ensuring workers were not being paid rates below the NMW. Staff in hospitality and retail were among the most likely to be paid close to the minimum wage, and therefore would have been among those most likely to submit a NMW complaint, said the law firm.

Compliance had improved among with companies having breached national minimum wage law in the past due to technicalities, such as extra time spent in work but not technically working. For example, this could have included staff at airports having to spend an extra 30 minutes going through security to get to work, or warehouse staff having to go through multiple security checks at the start/end of each shift. If HMRC finds an employer has not paid at least the minimum wage, they can issue a fine for not paying the correct rate of pay. In addition, HMRC will regularly “name and shame” businesses that have paid their employees below the minimum wage. In 2017, HMRC launched an online complaint system for reporting potential breaches of NMW laws. This initially led to a sixfold increase in complaints from 710 in 2016/17 to 4,237 in 2017/18. However, the numbers have since fallen significantly as businesses become better at complying with NMW laws.


The current NMW rates are as below:


23 and over 21 to 22 18 to 20 Under 18 Apprentice
£8.91 £8.36 £6.56 £4.62 £4.30


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