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Government launches campaign to increase low paid workers’ knowledge of their employment rights

Print publication

27/04/2017

The Government has launched an advertising campaign to raise awareness of employment rights amongst the lowest paid. This follows research showing that many workers on less than £15,000 per year were unaware that:

  • they should be paid for travel time between appointments
  • it is unlawful to make deductions from wages for uniform or other items where this takes earnings below the National Minimum Wage (NMW)
  • tips cannot be used to top up earnings to the NMW
  • they should be paid for time spent opening and shutting up shop and security checks.

From 1 April 2017, the National Living Wage increased by 30p to £7.50 per hour. In the latest round of Government ‘naming and shaming’ a record 359 employers were listed including some large household brands such as Debenhams and Subway. Argos was found to have underpaid 12,000 workers and 25,000 former staff because it asked them to attend staff briefings and security checks outside paid working hours. Debenhams was fined £63,000 and required to pay back £135,000 to workers after it was found to have underpaid because of a ‘technical error in its payroll calculations’. The highest amount of underpaid wages awarded still remains £1m awarded in back pay to Sports Direct workers in 2016.

As these cases show, it is important to be vigilant about payroll processes and time recording procedures to ensure that you do not fall foul of the NMW rules or face potentially damaging negative publicity.

If you would like further advice on this topic please contact David Smedley or Andrew Rayment.

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