UK Government launches £1.7m minimum wage ad campaign

The campaign, which is due to be launched in February, will include bus and billboard adverts.

The UK government is about to launch a £1.7 million advertising campaign encouraging workers to check they are being paid the national minimum wage following complaints that the enforcement system is not tough enough on employers.

Since February 2013, the government has fined almost 700 companies a total of £1.3 million for illegally underpaying staff and demanded they pay back £3.5 million in missing wages. But MPs claim that HMRC is too lenient when policing bosses, while workers complain that too often they are given the benefit of the doubt.

As a result, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said that HMRC’s enforcement budget had been increased from £13 million to £20 million in April 2016 so it could hire more compliance officers. An additional £4.3 million in enforcement funding was also announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in November.

The advertising campaign, which is due to be launched in February, will include bus and billboard adverts. It comes ahead of an increase in the minimum wage to £7.50 for people over 24 years of age on 1 April.

Business minister Margot James said: “This campaign will raise awareness among the lowest-paid in society about what they must legally receive and I would encourage anyone who thinks they may be paid less to contact Acas as soon as possible. Every call is followed up by HMRC and we are determined to make sure everybody in work receives a fair wage.”

As the new campaign was announced, HMRC also released the 10 worst excuses that officials had been given by employers for failing to pay workers what they are entitled. Among them were:

1.      “The employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage”.

2.      “She doesn’t deserve the National Minimum Wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps floors.”

3.      “My accountant and I speak a different language – he doesn’t understand me and that’s why he doesn’t pay my workers the correct wages.”