Martin Lewis warns around half a million people in minimum wage jobs are underpaid
Martin Lewis has warned that 500,000 people in minimum wage jobs are being underpaid. Here is how to check if you are missing out.
The UK minimum wage increased on April 1, raising the salaries for low-paid workers. Yet many who think they are on minimum wage are being paid less than they should be, according to the Low Pay Commission.
The minimum wage is the legal minimum an employer can pay anyone working in any UK nation. But in 2015 the then Chancellor George Osborne announced he was renaming the ‘minimum wage’ for then over-25s (now over-23s) as the 'national living wage'.
Writing in the Express, Martin Lewis said at the time it was tantamount to stealing the brand of the Living Wage Foundation, which is a charity the Money Saving Expert supports. Each year The Living Wage Foundation announces its REAL living wage; a voluntary employers' wage scheme, based on an assessment of the actual cost of living (and it’s due an update soon).
Currently in the UK it’s set at £9.90/hr, except London where it’s £11.05/hr. Almost 10,000 UK employers have pledged to pay the real living wage and you should be checking to see if yours is one of them.
Here's how to check if you have been underpaid
You can check whether your work place is one of the companies pledged to pay the living wage here.
Most of the time underpayments happen by mistake. Even if you work for a big company you could be underpaid. In 2021, 191 companies, including John Lewis, Body Shop International and Sheffield United FC, were found to have been failing to pay correctly.
If you have to buy a uniform or safety equipment, it could take your equivalent hourly salary under the minimum wage. Your employer should cover the cost so you can still earn at least the minimum.
Your wage also can't be "topped up" by your employer by commission, tips or overtime. Your base salary must be the legal minimum wage. If you're commission-only, the firm must ensure that you receive at least the equivalent of minimum wage for the hours worked.
If you spend time going through security checks, doing handover meetings, being on call (at your workplace), or closing/opening up your place of work, this is work and should be hours you’re paid for. If not, you’re owed money.
If your employer provides you accommodation, this can be taken into account when working out whether you've been paid the correct minimum wage or not. Martin Lewis says the rules are complicated and recommends viewing his website for more help.
You should get a pay rise every year on 1 April, and see an increase when you turn 18, 21 and 23. The national minimum wage increases every year on 1 April, so you should expect to receive a pay rise from the first full pay cycle after an increase comes in.
What should I do if I have been underpaid?
You can call the free ACAS helpline on 03001231100. Although it can't provide legal advice, it can provide general advice and explain the risks and benefits of going forward with your complaint.
Then, if you feel comfortable approach your employer and ask them if they’ve made a mistake. Or, if you prefer, you can ask HMRC to contact them (you’ll remain anonymous) – you can submit a quick form on www.gov.uk.
National Minimum Wage Rate since April 1, 2022
Age 18-20: £6.83
Age 21-22: £9.18
Age 23+: £9.50