Are you Being Paid Enough?

Many people won't realise that they're being underpaid by their employer, especially if they earn the minimum wage or living wage. Are you being paid enough...?
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On April 1st 2022 the national minimum wage (NMW) and national living wage (NLW) went up. But according to The Low Pay Commission, over half a million people are being paid less than minimum wage. Many people won’t realise they’re being underpaid, and although there are employers illegally underpaying their staff, in most cases these underpayments happen by mistake.

What am I entitled to?

Most people in the UK should get at least the minimum wage or national living wage. If you are over the age of 16 and under the age of 23 you’ll earn at least the national minimum wage, anyone over 23 will earn at least the national living wage.

National living wages and the national minimum wage increase every year on the 1st of April. You can also expect your national minimum to increase when you turn 18, 21 and 23.

National Living Wage & National Minimum Wage as of 1st April 2022:

AgeHourly Rate
Apprentice & Under 18s£4.81
18 – 20 £6.83
21 -22 £9.18
23+ £9.50

For the full list of people NOT entitled to minimum or living wage check the GOV website.

What should my pay cover?

NLW & NMW are hourly pay rates. So even if you earn a set salary, it should still meet the minimum or living wage if you were to break it down divided by your working hours.

Your pay or salary should cover:

  • Your normal working hours, plus any additional time you’ve spent working or fulfilling tasks for the company. E.g. overtime, starting your shift early, training, meetings, any time you are ‘on call’
  • If travelling is part of your job you should be paid for the time spent going to and from duties. E.g. time spent travelling to and from meetings or appointments.
  • Annual leave/holiday. Your contract will outline how many days of paid holiday leave you are allowed to take per year (the legal minimum will depend on how many days or hours you’re contracted). E.g. someone working 5 days a week is allowed to take 28 days’ holiday per year – usually including bank holidays.
  • Anything you have to buy for yourself in order to do your job. E.g. tools or uniform.
  • Receiving Sick Pay will depend on your contract and employment. Find out more here.

What should I do if I think I’m being underpaid?

If you think you haven’t been paid the correct amount we would suggest:

  1. Going over your payslip. Your payslip should cover the breakdown of what you’ve been paid e.g. your rate of pay, any bonuses paid, any tax or pension deducted. As an employee you legally have the right to a payslip.
  2. Speak to your employer. The easiest way to understand your pay is to speak with your employer, HR or payroll team. They should be able to better help you understand your payslip.
  3. You can also check if you’ve been paid the correct wage or if you’re owed money using the government’s national minimum and living wage calculator for workers.

How to claim the money back

If you discover you have definitely been underpaid there are two points of action you can take.

Settle it with your employer

In most cases, if there is a mistake or underpayment on your payslip you can resolve this with your employer.

Make sure you have all the correct information and evidence to support your claim before talking to your employer. They will more than likely repay you in a lump sum, or raise your payments going forward until the money is repaid.

If the chat doesn’t go the way you might have wanted, or your employer disputes the claim you’ll need to take further action.  

  • Take your complaint to ACAS who will offer you the chance to settle the issue without going to court
  • Take your employer to an employment tribunal for “unlawful deduction of wages”

Get in contact with HMRC

You can complete an anonymous online form with HMRC where you’ll need to enter the details of your complaint.

They will open an investigation with your employer and will keep you updated throughout the process. But, the process can take months to complete, especially if your company is on a larger scale. This is because they will look at every employee’s salary and pay.

If it is found that your employer is underpaying you and other members of staff, HMRC will either:

  • Make your employer pay you and any other under-paid members of staff what you are owed.
  • Give them a fine.
  • Take them to court if they refuse to pay.

For more detailed guides on wages, tax, payroll & working check GOV.uk’s a-z guide.

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