According to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the number of underpaid workers getting the money they are owed under the National Minimum Wage (NMW) legislation has more than doubled.
The Revenue’s latest figures show that in the 2017/18 tax year its investigators identified £15.6 million in pay owed to more than 200,000 of the UK’s lowest-paid workers.
This amount was up from £10.9 million for more than 98,000 identified in the previous tax year.
Much of this increase has been attributed to HMRC’s online complaints service, which was launched in January 2017, and is thought to have contributed to the 132 per cent increase in the number of complaints received during the last 12 months.
The online service is open to anyone with concerns about not being paid the NMW either by a current employer or former employer and is completely anonymous.
The new data has been published alongside the Government’s annual advertising campaign, which aims to inform and encourage workers to take action against their employer if they suspect they are being paid less than the NMW.
Due to run online over the summer, it urges underpaid workers to complain by completing a quick and easy online form.
Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “Employers abusing the system and paying under the legal minimum are breaking the law. Short-changing workers is a red line for this Government and employers who cross the line will be identified by HMRC and forced to pay back every penny and could be hit with fines of up to 200 per cent of wages owed.”
Penny Ciniewicz, Director General of Customer Compliance at HMRC, added: “HMRC is committed to getting money back into the pockets of underpaid workers, and these figures demonstrate that we won’t hesitate to take action against employers who ignore the law.”