National Minimum Wage underpayment reports have increased

05 February 2018

The number of complaints of suspected National Minimum Wage (NMW) underpayments received by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has more than doubled in a year, according to figures obtained by Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind

According to tax investigations expert Paul Noble of Pinsent Masons, the sharp increase in reports made by whistleblowers to HMRC and Acas may be due to a rapid rise in the number of workers falling within the scope of the NMW, as well as the introduction of a new online complaints process making it easier to raise concerns,

HMRC received 5,053 reports of suspected underpayments during the year to 31 March 2017, up from 2,513 the previous year. The National Living Wage, introduced in 2016, raised pay from £6.70 to £7.20 per hour, and then £7.50 per hour last year, for workers aged 25 or over. At the same time, the number of workers covered has increased from one million to 1.6 million.

"This is a significant rise in whistle-blowing over the national minimum wage in just one year," said Noble. "Employees are now increasingly knowledgeable about their rights, and they're ready to take action if they don't think they're being paid correctly for their time."


The government has committed £25.3 million for minimum wage enforcement in 2017/18 and launched a £1.7m awareness campaign for workers earlier this year. Employers found to have been underpaying workers face penalties of up to 200% of the arrears owed, up to a cap of £20,000 per worker.

Read more from Pinsent Masons.




NMW resources

Join the CIPP, IES and Eversheds-Sutherland for a half day briefing on minimum wages. Areas covered include the consequences of a trebling in minimum wage jobs, increasing enforcement, current issues and reviewing your employment and reward models. For full details of when and where these events are being held and to book your place, go to Eversheds-Sutherland.


HMRC has various webinars about minimum wages. You can register to join a live webinar covering the information below on 15 February 2018 11am to midday:

  • the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage
  • common errors made by employers
  • working time and deductions.

You can register to join a live webinar covering the information below on 8 March 2018 11am to midday:

  • apprenticeships
  • employment status
  • how to avoid common errors made by employers.

You can also use HMRC’s online course on paying your workers the minimum wage to find out more.