Minimum Wage: Non-payment

Treasury written question – answered on 11th January 2021.

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Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the Answer of 22 December 2020 to Question 130041 on Minimum Wage: Non-payment, what estimate he has made of the (a) amount of national minimum wage (NMW) arrears identified by HMRC, (b) number of firms identified by HMRC as liable to pay NMW arrears, (c) amount of those arrears paid to workers who should have been paid them in the first instance, (d) number of workers identified as eligible for such arrears, (e) amount of arrears paid to such workers and (f) number of workers identified as eligible for such arrears but not traced and paid in each year since 2010-11.

Photo of Jesse Norman Jesse Norman The Financial Secretary to the Treasury

The Government is determined that everyone who is entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) should receive it.

HMRC enforce the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) in line with the law and policy set out by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The table below provides a breakdown of figures for the total amount of arrears outstanding, number of businesses and the number of workers identified by HMRC for breaches of National Minimum Wage legislation since 2010.


Amount of arrears (a)

Number of businesses (b)

Number of workers (d)

2010 - 2011




2011 - 2012




2012 – 2013




2013 – 2014




2014 – 2015




2015 – 2016




2016 – 2017




2017 – 2018




2018 – 2019




2019 - 2020




In all cases where employers are found to owe arrears to workers HMRC are able to recover almost all arrears and carry out checks to ensure the money is repaid to the workers in question. Where an employer fails to pay back arrears, HMRC will take legal action through the civil courts on behalf of the worker to enforce the debt. (c, e)

Where an officer identifies arrears for workers, they may issue a Notice of Underpayment (NOU) requiring the employer to pay those workers within a 28-day period. Any worker placed on a Notice of Underpayment must be able to be contacted/traced at the time the NOU is issued. Every effort is made to trace workers, but this is not always possible if for example they have moved and left no forwarding address. HMRC are unable to provide data about workers who were not included on Notices of Underpayment. (f)

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