Liz Kendall – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the HM Treasury

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Liz Kendall on 2014-04-03.

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, which social care providers have been identified by HM Revenue and Customs as non-compliant with national minimum wage legislation; how much is owed in arrears by each such provider and to how many workers; and what value of fines have been levied on such providers to date.

Mr David Gauke

The Government takes the enforcement of National Minimum Wage (NMW) very seriously and HMRC enforce the national minimum wage legislation on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and has done so since the introduction of NMW in April 1999. It does that by investigating all complaints made about employers suspected of not paying the minimum wage, in addition carrying out targeted enforcement where it identifies a high risk of non-payment of NMW across the whole of the UK.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have a legal duty of confidentiality towards their customers. For NMW, this includes employers and their workers. This means that HMRC cannot supply all the information requested as this would breach HMRC’s statutory duty of confidentiality under s18(1) of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005.

Fines are associated with criminal offences. Where minimum wage arrears are identified for any pay reference periods starting on or after 6 April 2009, the employer will be charged an automatic penalty. The rate of the penalty charge was 50% of the arrears falling in pay periods after 6 April 2009 (minimum penalty charge was £100 and the maximum was £5,000).

The Government has increased the financial penalty percentage from 50 per cent to 100 per cent of the unpaid wages owed to workers, and the maximum penalty from £5,000 to £20,000. These new limits are now in force where arrears are identified in pay reference periods on or after 7 March 2014. The Government will also bring in primary legislation as soon as possible so that the maximum £20,000 penalty can apply to each underpaid worker.

To ensure that underpaid workers receive the arrears of national minimum wage due to them, HMRC contacts every employer for confirmation that they have paid the arrears to workers. In cases where 5 or fewer workers are owed arrears HMRC also contacts all those workers for confirmation of payment. In cases where more than 5 workers are identified as being owed arrears HMRC contacts an additional sample of workers for confirmation of payment.

HMRC records information by Standard Industry Codes. The table below shows the number of employers in the Social Care sector found to be non-compliant with NMW legislation in the last year. Also shown are the value of arrears, the number of underpaid workers identified and the value of penalties issued to employers as a result of those investigations.

Financial Year

Number of employers recorded as Social Care Sector and found to be non-compliant

Arrears identified during those investigations

Underpaid workers identified during those investigations

Penalties issued during those investigations