In a stern move by the government, over 500 employers were publicly named yesterday today for failing to pay the minimum wage, according to a joint announcement from the Department for Business and Trade and Kevin Hollinrake MP.

The revelation comes as part of a crackdown on violations of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) law, with 524 businesses found to have breached regulations, leaving more than 172,000 workers out of pocket.

The identified employers have been ordered to repay nearly £16 million to their workers, along with facing additional financial penalties of up to 200 percent of their underpayment.

Major high-street brands are among the businesses named, sending a clear message that no company is exempt from adhering to statutory minimum wage laws.

The investigations, conducted by His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), spanned from 2015 to 2023, with the businesses having since rectified their underpayments. Minister for Enterprise, Markets, and Small Business Kevin Hollinrake emphasised the importance of paying employees fairly, stating, “Employees deserve to get paid properly for the hard work they put in.”

National Living wage set to increase

The government’s commitment to fair compensation is further emphasised as the National Living Wage is set to increase by 9.8 percent to £11.44 per hour on April 1, following an announcement in November’s Autumn statement.

Commenting on the situation, Independent Commissioner at the Low Pay Commission, Patricia Rice, highlighted the vital role the national minimum wage has played in protecting the earnings of the lowest-paid workers for nearly twenty-five years. She stressed the importance, especially during a time of rising living costs, of ensuring that workers receive the pay to which they are entitled.

Acknowledging that not all minimum wage underpayments are intentional, the government has reiterated its stance that anyone entitled to the minimum wage should receive it, and enforcement action will be taken against non-compliant employers. Patricia Rice encourages raising awareness of underpayment to ensure all employers comply with the law.

An educational bulletin introduced

The government has released an educational bulletin to inform companies about National Minimum Wage legislation and to raise awareness among employers. This initiative aligns with the government’s determination to ensure workers are justly compensated for their hard work.

Caroline Harwood, Employer Tax Partner at BDO, commented on the situation, noting that many employers on the list may have inadvertently made mistakes in calculating workers’ pay. She emphasised the need for employers to double-check their procedures, especially with significant increases to the national minimum wage rates coming into effect from April this year.

As 2024 marks the 25th year since the introduction of the National Minimum Wage, the government aims to continue its efforts to eradicate low hourly pay, aligning with its manifesto commitment of the National Living Wage reaching two-thirds of median earnings by 2024. Workers who suspect underpayment can visit for more information on their rights and recourse options.

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Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.