July 12 2013.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has reported that more than 26,000 workers were denied the National Minimum Wage by their employers; the workers have been collectively repaid £4m.

In 2012-13, HMRC investigated 1,693 complaints against employers for allegedly breaching minimum wage rules. This resulted in 708 employers receiving automatic penalty charges of up to £5,000 and 26,519 employees receiving an average of £300 in back pay.

HMRC, as the enforcer, is at pains to remind employers that paying the National Minimum Wage is not optional. Where an employer ignores the rules, HMRC will take steps to ensure arrears are paid out in full and the employer fined. In the most serious cases, criminal prosecution can follow.

Further information about the different minimum wage rates, which depend upon age and apprentice status, can be found at