National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage - rates and overview

Minimum wage enforcement and penalties


The National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage can be enforced in a number of different ways, including:

  • by Compliance Officers of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
  • by a worker making a claim in an industrial tribunal or court
  • in the case of agricultural workers, through Agricultural Wages Inspectors (who can also enforce the agricultural minimum wage)

The National Living Wage was extended to workers aged 21 years old and above from 1 April 2024.

Minimum wage criminal offences

There are six criminal offences relating to the minimum wage:

  • refusing or wilfully neglecting to pay the minimum wage
  • failing to keep or preserve minimum wage records
  • causing or allowing a materially false entry to be made in minimum wage records
  • producing or furnishing records or information which are known to be materially false
  • intentionally delaying or obstructing a compliance officer
  • refusing or neglecting to answer questions, give information, or produce documents to a compliance officer

Employers who deliberately fail to pay the minimum wage may face a potentially unlimited fine.

Minimum wage inspections

HMRC Compliance Officers may carry out inspections of employers at any time. There is no requirement on them to provide reasons for an inspection. Officers will act in response to complaints that an employer is not paying the minimum wage, whether the complaint is by workers or others. They will also investigate where they consider there is a risk of non-payment.

Minimum wage arrears

You must pay minimum wage to workers if it is due. If you discover you have paid your workers below minimum wage rates, you must pay any arrears of minimum wage to the workers immediately. Arrears are calculated in accordance with a formula that uses current rates. HMRC Compliance Officers will issue a notice of underpayment to enforce any arrears of minimum wage they find are outstanding at the start of their investigation. They may also impose a penalty.

For further details, see calculating the minimum wage arrears section of the calculating the minimum wage.

If you break minimum wage law, you could face an unlimited fine and also be named publicly.

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