Money (6)

When HM Revenue and Customs revealed more than 13,000 workers had been underpaid by 700 employers, you would have thought that many of them would have been prosecuted for breaking the law.

Since early 2014, workers underpaid were owed over £3.5 million, but despite this, the number of employers that have been prosecuted is as little as three, according to The Guardian.

Since the government began enforcing the National Minimum Wage in April 1999, HM Revenue & Customs has identified £68 million in arrears for over 313,000 workers.

The their latest report, the National Audit Office found the number of workers identified as being owed arrears increased in 2015-16 to 58,000 compared to 26,000 in 2014-15.

Investigations by The Guardian have previously exposed a number of employers paying below the minimum wage, including Sports Direct and Hermes. Midcounties Co-op was the latest case to be unravelled by the newspaper, but it is not yet known if they will be prosecuted.

Last month, Sports Direct said it will pay back £1 million to some its staff, after it was revealed that the firm effectively paid below minimum wage as its warehouse in Derbyshire. The back-pay went back as far as May 2012, the investigation revealed.

Frank Field, the Labour chairman of the House of Commons work and pensions select committee, said the government isn’t being effective as it should be in preventing employers breaking the law with low pay.

He said: “The minimum wage is an issue on which the government should want to be proud of its record. But why is it allowing employers to laugh at its attempts to raise the living standards of the poorest and why isn’t it acting more effectively to enforce the minimum?”