HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is helping Merseyside employers meet their National Minimum Wage obligations and prevent mistakes in wage payments to workers.

HMRC has written to more than 31,000 employers in the Liverpool, Sefton, Halton (Cheshire), St Helens and Knowsley districts to highlight common mistakes around the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) – offering support, including a simple checklist, to help them get it right and remind them of their legal obligation to pay workers at least the minimum wage.

Around 2,000 local employers are also being offered a free support call with an HMRC wage expert. During these calls employers can discuss their minimum wage concerns and ask questions. HMRC can help identify any mistakes and, if needed, help put things right. If a business corrects the mistakes as a result of the support call, HMRC will not charge any penalties.

This is part of HMRC’s regular compliance outreach activity, which focuses on specific areas of the UK by offering support and helping businesses identify risks.

Employers sometimes fail to take account of deductions or payments for items connected to a job, such as uniforms, in their salary calculations – which can take workers below the minimum wage. Other common mistakes include not paying employees for the entire time they have worked, or for training time, and not paying apprentices correctly.

Businesses failing to comply with minimum wage rules could face penalties of up to 200% of their arrears – plus having to pay the arrears owed to workers. Employers may also be publicly named.

Marc Gill, Director of Individuals and Small Business Compliance at HMRC, said:

“HMRC is here to support employers in Merseyside to get it right to ensure their workers are paid what they are due under minimum wage rules.

“Our information, checklist and support calls will help businesses pay workers what they are due, spot any possible mistakes and make sure their workers are not losing out.”

The five most common causes of NMW underpayment are:

  1. Extra time added on to the start or end of your shift that you are not paid for:
    1. This could be attending handover meetings, completing security checks, or performing cleaning duties at the start or end of your shift, and you are not paid for the extra time you spent working.
  2. Travel time you are not paid for:
    1. If you have to travel in connection with your job and you are not paid for this time. This includes travelling from one work assignment to another or travelling to training. It does not include travel between work and home.
  3. Time spent training that you are not paid for:
    1. If you have to spend time training in connection with your job and you are not paid for this time
    1. This includes training that takes place at work, at home, or outside of your normal working hours.
  4. Paying for items connected with your job, which are deducted from your salary and could take you below the minimum wage:
    1. This includes things like paying for tools, equipment, uniforms, or items of clothing needed to meet a dress code.
  5. Mistakes when paying apprentices:
    1. Not paying for all the time worked.  
    1. Failing to pay the minimum wage following the annual increase. 

Employers can access support at any time to ensure they are paying the NMW correctly:

  • view the online employers’ guide on calculating the minimum wage
  • view our recorded webinars on various minimum wage topics which can be accessed by clicking this link: National Minimum Wage videos and webinars
  • contact the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100 for confidential, free advice (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm).