Low-paid staff urged to check pay ahead of wage changes

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Government urged staff to check their pay before new wage rates
Government urged staff to check their pay before new wage rates

Related tags National living wage Minimum wage

Britain’s lowest paid workers are the target of a new government advertising campaign, designed to make them aware of their rights, ahead of the rise in National Minimum and National Living Wage rates next month.

Advertisements were placed on public transport, in shopping centres and other public spaces on Monday (February 27). The adverts urged low-paid workers to check their pay before the National Minimum and National Living Wage rates increase on April 1.

The campaign was launched after government survey results claimed low-paid workers were confused about what they should be paid, including deductions, whether legal or illegal.

Almost 70% of workers earning less than £15,000 said they didn’t know they should be paid for travel time between work appointments. The survey also revealed 57% weren’t aware salary deductions to cover uniform costs were illegal (if it took their earnings below the National Minimum or National Living Wage). Almost half didn’t know that using tips to top up pay to the legal minimum was also illegal.

‘Raise awareness’

Business minister Margot James said: “This campaign will raise awareness among the lowest paid people in society about what they must legally receive.

“We are determined to make sure everybody in work receives a fair wage and while most employers get it right, there are still a small number who fail to play by the rules.”

Some employers weren’t paying staff for shutting up stores, travelling between appointments, and were making workers’ pay for their uniforms out of their salaries, which took them below the legal minimum, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) revealed.

HMRC director general for customer compliance Jennie Granger said: “Paying the National Minimum Wage is the law – it’s not a choice. Employers must pay their workers what they’re entitled to and follow the rules.

“We will act to ensure ripped-off workers receive their proper pay, and hardworking businesses are not losing out to dodgy dealers who cheat their staff.”

‘Dodgy dealers’

The government urged workers to report underpayment to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

ACAS head of guidance Stewart Gee said: “We welcome this new government awareness campaign, as it is important for employers to stay within the law and for workers to be fully aware of the pay that they are legally entitled to.

“ACAS has free advice for both employers and employees on the correct National Minimum and Living Wage rates, and advice for workers on what they can do if they feel that they are not being paid correctly.”

Meanwhile, 14 food and drink firms were named and shamed​ for underpaying their staff, on February 15. Food and drink employers owed 64 employees more than £36,000 in total, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Most common employer failings on underpaying staff

  • Using tips to top up pay to the Minimum Wage
  • Making staff pay for uniforms out of their salary which takes them below the legal minimum
  • Not paying for shutting up shop
  • Not paying for time waiting for security checks
  • Not paying for time spent travelling between appointments

Related topics People & Skills Services

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