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Hospitality shamed as HMRC releases minimum wage underpayments data

22 September 2018 by
Hospitality shamed as HMRC releases minimum wage underpayments data

Hospitality has the highest number of jobs paid below the National Minimum Wage of any sector, according to data released by HMRC.

The government body has said there were an estimated 54,500 jobs within the sector were paid below the minimum wage in April 2017. Retail was the next worst offending sector with 51,300 jobs paid below the minimum wage.

The financial year 2017/2018 saw 609 investigations closed across the accommodation and food services sector. These identified arrears of £1.8m owed to 11,366 workers.

Across all sectors the year saw more than 200,000 workers paid less than the minimum wage identified and employers fined an unprecedented £14m.

HMRC identified £15.6m of underpayments in total and more than 600 employers were highlighted in 2017/18 as part of ‘name and shame' rounds.

The number of workers identified as underpaid was double that in 2016/17 and the highest number since the National Minimum Wage came into force.

In every case, the government instructs employers to repay their workers and enforces the return of the missing cash.

Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst said: "We are dedicated to stopping underpayment of the minimum wage. Employers must recognise their responsibilities and pay their workers the money they are entitled to.

"The UK's lowest paid workers have had the fastest wage growth in 20 years thanks to the National Living Wage and today's figures serve as a reminder to all employers to check they are getting their workers' pay right."

Over the past year, 56 employers took advantage of an HMRC pilot scheme where employers were encouraged to come forward outside of an investigation. This resulted in nearly £250,000 in arrears being declared for just under 700 workers.

Penny Ciniewicz, HMRC director general of customer compliance, said: "HMRC is committed to ensuring that workers receive the wages they are legally entitled to, irrespective of their employer's size or business sector, and today's figures highlight our success over the last year."

Low Pay Commission chairman Bryan Sanderson added: "All workers are entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage, so it is good to see increased focus on enforcement bearing fruit and securing more arrears for more workers. Awareness of the minimum wage is vital for workers and employers alike, and strong enforcement is critical to its success."

Funding for minimum wage enforcement has reached record levels, rising to £26.3m in 2018/19 from £20m.

Wagamama, Marriott and TGI Fridays top list for underpaying minimum wage >>

Government ‘names and shames' 62 hospitality firms for underpaying the minimum wage >>

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