Most low paid workers in the North West would be unaware if they were being illegally denied the National Minimum Wage, it has been revealed.

HM Revenue and Customs, which investigates National Minimum (NMW) and Living Wage (NLW) breaches, revealed a survey of low paid workers across the region found most were unaware of the rules and how their employer could be underpaying them.

The survey findings follow the launch of a nationwide Government campaign to increase low paid workers’ understanding of their rights around pay.

Jennie Granger, Director General for Customer Compliance at HMRC, said:

“Almost all workers must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage – it’s the law and there are no exceptions. It really is that simple.

“We are determined to ensure working people understand their rights – if you think you are getting ripped off by your employer, tell us. We have a really straightforward online form that anyone can use.

“HMRC respond to every complaint we receive. Last year alone we helped over 58,000 workers get more than £10 million in underpaid wage arrears, putting money back in their pockets.“

Business Minister, Margot James, said:

“There are no excuses for underpaying staff what they are legally entitled to. While most employers get it right, there are still a small number who fail to play by the rules. I would encourage anyone who thinks they may be paid less to contact Acas as soon as possible.

“Every call is followed up by HMRC and we are determined to make sure everybody in work receives a fair wage.”

The survey of workers earning less than £15,000 in the North West revealed:

● 57 per cent did not know staff earning the minimum wage must be paid for tasks or checks done before or after they officially start work

● 48 per cent did not know an employer cannot charge someone receiving the minimum wage for a uniform

● 57 per cent thought workers could agree to be paid less than the minimum wage

● 54 per cent believed apprentices were not entitled to the NMW

● 73 per cent did not know staff on the minimum wage must be paid for time spent travelling between work assignments

● 40 per cent did not know anyone paid less than the minimum wage can legally claim back their money.

The most common excuses from employers paying workers less than the minimum wage include using tips to top up pay, making staff pay for their uniforms, not paying for time spent shutting up the shop or clearing security checks, or time spent travelling from one appointment to another.

HMRC helps people denied the minimum wage receive the money they are owed with more than 300,000 people receiving more than £68 million of pay they wouldn’t otherwise have got since 1999.

A national advertising campaign – which is carried on public transport, in shopping centres and other public places – has been on-going ahead of the Government’s National Minimum and National Living Wage rates rising on 1 April.

To complain about being paid less than your legal entitlement, ring the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100 or complete an online form.


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