It's against the law for an employer to pay less than the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.
They also must keep accurate pay records and make them available when requested.
If an employer has not been paying the correct minimum wage, they should resolve the problem as soon as possible.
The employer must also resolve any backdated non-payment of minimum wage. This is even if the employee or worker no longer works for them.
5. Resolving the issue informally
It can resolve the issue quickly if the employer and employee or worker are able to talk informally about it.
To check if someone has been getting the right pay, you could:
Find out more about:
Formal processes for non-payment of minimum wage
If minimum wage is not being paid, the employee or worker can raise the problem formally.
This could be by raising a grievance – making a formal complaint to the employer. This can help get the issue resolved without needing legal action.
Or they can do one of the following:
- complain to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
- make a claim to an employment tribunal
If you have questions about minimum wage, or are not able to resolve an issue, contact the Acas helpline.
How HMRC enforces payment of minimum wage
If someone has not been paid the minimum wage, they can make a complaint to HMRC.
Complaints to HMRC can be anonymous. Third parties can also make a complaint, such as a friend, family member or someone the person works with.
If HMRC finds that the employer has not paid the minimum wage, action they can take against the employer includes:
- issuing a notice to pay money owed, going back a maximum of 6 years
- issuing a fine of up to £20,000 and a minimum of £100 for each employee or worker affected, even if the underpayment is worth less
- legal action including criminal legal proceedings
- passing on the names of businesses and employers to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) who may put them on a public list
To make a complaint to HMRC, either:
If the employee makes a claim to an employment tribunal
If an employee or worker has not been paid the minimum wage, they can make a claim to an employment tribunal.
They must choose either to do this or to complain to HMRC. They cannot take the same issue through 2 legal processes.
How much money an employee or worker can claim will depend on the type of claim they make. For example, if they make a claim for non-payment of minimum wage, they can claim for money owed going back 2 years.
They must make their claim within 3 months minus 1 day of the most recent date of non-payment or underpayment of minimum wage.
Find out about making a claim to an employment tribunal
Protection against being treated less favourably because of minimum wage
An employer must not treat someone less favourably (cause them 'detriment') if they:
- become entitled to a higher rate of minimum wage
- assert their right to minimum wage
- make a complaint to HMRC or a claim to an employment tribunal
Detriment means treatment that leaves someone worse off, for example:
- reducing their hours
- overlooking them for promotions or development opportunities
- saying no to training requests without good reason
If someone thinks they've experienced detriment because of minimum wage entitlement, they might be able to make a claim to an employment tribunal.