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Record number of workers paid less than minimum wage

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Record numbers of minimum wage workers have been underpaid this year, HMRC has said.

More than 200,000 workers were paid less than the minimum wage, double the number in 2016/17 and the highest since the national minimum wage came into force in 1999.

These workers are owed a record £15.6m, according to the tax authority. In every case, the government instructs employers to repay their workers and enforces the return of the missing cash.

The national minimum wage for people 25 and over is currently £7.83.

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.”

The year also set a new record for penalties issued by the government, with £14m in fines issued to employers.

Non-compliance with the national minimum wage laws is believed to be more widespread in the social care, retail, commercial warehousing and gig economy sectors.

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.”

If anyone thinks they are not receiving at least the minimum wage, they can contact the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100 in confidence or submit a query online through the HMRC complaints form.

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