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The HMRC investigates

The names of 239 employers found to have underpaid 22,400 UK workers by a total of £1.44m have been published recently by the Government. This has launched the next stage of the HMRC's campaign to raise the awareness of the National Mininimum and Living Wage rates.

The Government’s National Living and Minimum Wage campaign aims to make sure the UK’s lowest paid workers receive the correct rates of pay.

The call to action for this round of the campaign, which is running until Dec 2018 is to encourage those workers not being paid correctly to raise a complaint with HMRC.

In the latest 'Name and Shame' listings, one equestrian establishment was named for a total fine of £568.33 to 2 workers. Cherwell Competition Centre  in Oxfordshire thought that they were doing everything by the law, but when a former employee reported them to the HMRC, they discovered that they had fallen through a common loop hole.

Proprietor, Laura Colman explained, “The mistake that was made was that instead of deducting the agreed livery amount from the Net salary, it was being deducted from the Gross (pre tax and NI amount). I was also not invoicing for this, which I now know I should have done.

It was a genuine misunderstanding and unfortunately I was infact advised by the training company mentoring the apprentices that this would be acceptable - my advice would be to always check your own facts. This happened over 2 years ago now, so it is clear that the HMRC are happy to probe into many years ago. 

The whole experience with the HMRC made me realise the importance of getting it right, which clearly I already was doing so as they ultimately met an employer who was paying at least the NMW for every hour that my employees that were working. The HMRC turned up with 2 investigating officers and were thorough. Employers that are not abiding by the NMW rates are really putting themselves at risk of being found out and large fines. I hope that by sharing my experience it will help others to get it right.“

The British Grooms Association (BGA) urges grooms to understand the rules surrounding NMW and use the BGA Wage Checker to see if they are being paid legally. The BGA Guide to the NMW is also a must read. 

Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back arrears of wages to the worker at current minimum wage rates and face financial penalties of up to 200% of arrears, capped at £20,000 per worker. Introduce your employer to the Equestrian Employers Association to help them to get it right. 

Groom, Amanda Sharp was underpaid in a role and demonstrated a growing trend in grooms reporting illegal employers , “My advice to others would be to definitely pursue your case. It is your money that you have earned. My new current employer has known about this case from the start and have supported me therefore I feel like I have not been  'black listed' or 'outcast'. It is daft that so many grooms don’t report the underpayment because of this incorrect assumption. If my case was taken seriously at such a small amount, then higher amounts would be taken seriously too."

If you’re a worker aged under 25, or an apprentice, you’re legally entitled to at least the National Minimum Wage. Think you're being underpaid? Register a confidential complaint with HMRC.

One of the many benefits of BGA membership is free advice on your own situation, discover more 

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