£4.6m paid in wage arrears cases

More than £4.6 million has been paid out to thousands of people working for less than the national minimum wage, including staff at a Premier League football club, figures have shown.

HM Revenue and Customs has held more than 1,400 investigations into minimum wage arrears in the past year
HM Revenue and Customs has held more than 1,400 investigations into minimum wage arrears in the past year

HM Revenue and Customs said it had held more than 1,400 investigations in the past year which led to arrears being paid to 22,000 workers.

Around 650 financial penalties were issued, worth £815,000, recovering an average of £205 per person.

Business minister Jenny Willott said: "Paying less than the minimum wage is illegal and, as HMRC's record shows, if employers break the law they will face tough consequences.

"We want to issue a clear warning to employers who fail to pay the minimum wage - under the Government's new rules you will be named and shamed and face a stiff financial penalty."

The unnamed football club was ordered to pay arrears of more than £27,500 to 3,000 workers after it made deductions for uniforms and travelling time for staff working in hospitality.

Other cases included a social care provider found to have not paid its staff for travelling time and a recruitment agency ordered to pay more than £167,000 to workers, including some it had classified as unpaid interns.

In another case, a multi-outlet retailer which required its employees to attend work before and after opening hours without pay was ordered to repay almost £77,000 to more than 1,300 workers.

Jennie Granger, director of enforcement and compliance at HMRC, said: "Paying the national minimum wage is not a choice - it's the law. HMRC will continue to ensure that workers get at least the wage to which they are legally entitled.

"Where an employer ignores these rules, we will ensure that any arrears are paid out in full and the employer is fined. Rogue employers be warned - we will find you and you will pay."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "It is shocking that some employers - including those who pay certain star staff millions of pounds a year - are cheating low-paid workers out of the minimum wage.

"The penalties won by HMRC - which the Government are rightly making even bigger - should be a clear deterrent to any bad bosses thinking about short changing their staff.

"HMRC staff deserve credit for winning back millions of pounds for cheated employees but they need greater resources to catch the many minimum wage crooks still out there."