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United Kingdom

10 November 2017

UK: the enforcement of the minimum wage

The UK-government published its annual report on the compliance with the statutory National Minimum Wage (NMW). For the second, consecutive time, offenders are listed with their names. Trade union confederation TUC has been asking for years for the naming and shaming of employers who break the law and undercut the National Minimum Wage.

In a Department for business, Energy & Industrial Strategy report, called National Minimum Wage Law: Enforcement, the government reveals that a new record of £2m refunding to workers whose bosses failed to pay the National Minimum Wage has been reached. The ‘name and shame’ list is the result of investigations on the enforcement of the respect for the National Minimum Wage. It includes 230 employers that have not complied with the NMW. In total 13,000 employees will receive compensation for underpayment. The largest fine, of £800,000, was levied on retailer Argos.

Earlier in 2017, employers were, for the first time, named and shamed. The report with the data on 2016 consisted of 360 employers, the largest ever list of national minimum and living wage offenders. That list contained the names of employers who failed to pay more than 15,500 eligible workers at least the current National Minimum Wage, with employers in the hairdressing, hospitality, care homes and retail sectors the most prolific offenders.

In 2015, 115 employers failed to pay 1,700 workers the National Minimum Wage. In that year, trade union confederation TUC estimated that at least 250,000 workers were being denied their legal pay, and that only a quarter of the offenders were being caught.

The TUC published in 2013 a 10-point plan for sharpening the NMW enforcement. The trade union confederation argued in the plan that the NMW enforcement regime must be subject to a process of continual improvement in order to keep up with those employers who actively look for new ways to try to evade their responsibility to pay the National Minimum Wage. Part of the plan was, next to naming and shaming, more staff for control and enforcement, enhanced prosecution and increase of the maximum fine.

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