In 2018, about 6,700 workers were paid lower than the national living wage – 11.8% of the 57,000 people working lower-paid jobs in the industry.
The Government reported 369,000 workers that had been underpaid last year, equal to 23% of the total number of people in low-paid positions in the UK.
The retail industry saw the highest number of employees that had been underpaid (55,000), while the agriculture industry reported one of the lowest (2,000) at just 0.5% of the total lower-paid workforce.
Women were more likely than men to be paid less than the minimum wage and underpayment was also higher for the youngest and oldest workers.
Commenting on the report, LPC chair Bryan Sanderson said: “We recently celebrated 20 years of the minimum wage – it has raised pay for millions of workers – but it is essential that people receive what they are entitled to. It is also vital for businesses to be able to operate on a level playing field and not be illegally undercut on wages.
‘Enforce their rights’
“The Government has made real progress with its enforcement of the minimum wage, but more needs to be done to ensure employers comply in the first place and workers know how to enforce their rights.”
Last year, food businesses hit out at a report published by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs that named and shamed employers that had paid workers below the National Living and Minimum Wage.
Food firms called on the Government to educate small and medium-sized businesses on staff payment regulations, instead of demonising them for mistakes or for misunderstanding pay rules.
The report did not take into account seasonal workers or companies that had been given the wrong advice on apprentices, leaving companies having to pay back money that had already been paid to their employees.
Meanwhile, union Unite announced plans to hold a strike ballot for its members working for poultry processor Moy Park, after disagreements over “unreasonable management demands” in ongoing pay negotiations.