Today the government announced that a record 22,400 minimum wage workers will receive millions in backpay from their employers.
They’ve also named and shamed the 239 employers who cheated these workers out of money they were owed by right.
The list includes some household names, such as Odeon and UCI cinema group, Bristol City FC and Card Factory.
In total, these companies will now have to repay their workers £1.44 million, as well as £1.97 million to HMRC in fines.
This is good news for those on the National Minimum Wage (NMW), but ministers shouldn’t get complacent.
After all, it’s hardly a surprise that doubling the funding for minimum wage enforcement since 2015 has led to more employers being caught out - investment in making low-paid workers get the NMW is money well spent.
And the fact that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has identified more backpay than in any previous year shows that minimum wage underpayment is now happening on an industrial scale.
We know that tens of thousands more workers are still being underpaid, and we know the tactics that some employers use to dodge their obligations.
Whether it’s underpaying apprentices or failing to pay travel time, these dodgy bosses will use every trick in the book to avoid paying their workers what they’re entitled to.
And even well-meaning employers who may have been inadvertently caught out need to up their game when it comes to paying the minimum wage.
Every employer must understand that it’s a criminal offence to not pay the NMW, or to fake payment records.
It’s also their responsibility to keep records proving that they’re paying the minimum wage for at least three years.
Unions can help employers to understand these responsibilities, and ensure that workers know their rights around the minimum wage.
But better enforcement from government is also really important, so ministers must keep up the pressure on employers and give HMRC the resources it needs.
It’s good that over 200 companies have been caught in the act this year, but the government will do minimum wage workers no favours by pretending this is anything but the tip of the iceberg.
If you think you might be being underpaid or want to find out more about how to secure your rights, why not take a look at our guide to the minimum and living wages.
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