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HMRC gets tough about the National Minimum Wage

Hundreds of companies have been fined and ordered to make compensation payments by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for failing to comply with minimum wage laws.

More than 26,000 workers have been paid back a total of £4m, while 708 employers have been fined with 51 of them receiving the maximum penalty of £5,000. This comes after HMRC reviewed 1,693 complaints over the last year.

In one instance, a national retailer was forced to make back payments of £193,000 for almost 3,500 workers after it required them to be at work before and after opening hours without pay. Another retailer had to repay nearly £170,000 after it had its workers buy specific clothing items from its range.

Other employers were ordered to pay wages to unpaid interns who should have qualified for the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage (NMW) - currently at £6.19 per hour for workers aged 21 and over.

HMRC has the right to investigate employers and ask to see payment records. It's up to employers to make sure they have payroll records proving they are paying the minimum wage. Records should be kept for at least three years.

It's a criminal offence to refuse to pay the NMW or fail to keep NMW records, and the most serious cases can be heard in a Crown Court, meaning that there's a potential for an unlimited fine.

Acas can help you get it right with the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage and has published the Advisory booklet - Personnel data and record keeping. Visit Pay and reward: how Acas can help and the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects page for more information.

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