The Government has named and shamed more than 350 employers who failed to pay workers the national minimum wage or national living wage, with high street stalwart Debenhams identified as one of the most prominent offenders.
The department store failed to pay almost £135,000 to just under 12,000 workers – a failure it blamed on a 2015 technical error in its payroll calculations. Employers in the hospitality, retail, hairdressing and social care sectors also dominate the list.
HM Revenue & Customs is currently working on 1,500 underpayment cases, with more firms set to be announced. Only 13 companies have been prosecuted for non-compliance with minimum wage laws since 2007.
Business Minister Margot James says: "Every worker in the UK is entitled to at least the national minimum or living wage and this Government will ensure they get it."
What are the national living wage and national minimum wage?
Introduced in July 2015 by then-Chancellor George Osborne, the compulsory national living wage is the lowest wage that can legally be paid to employees aged 25 or over. Its rates are adjusted every April.
It's higher than the compulsory national minimum wage, which it replaced for over-25s. The national minimum wage continues at various rates for employees under 25 (as the table below shows) and is also rising.
Compulsory minimum and living wages (per hour)
|National Living Wage||National minimum wage (1)|
|Age 25+||Age 21-24||Age 18-20||Under 18||Apprentice|
|From April 2017:||£7.50||£7.05||£5.60||£4.05||£3.50|
|(1) Applies from school-leaving age, which varies around the UK.|
If you're on a low income, use our Benefits Calculator to check if you're entitled to any extra cash.