Many apprentices paid less than minimum wage, reveals HMRC

HMRC says employers will have the "pay the arrears of wages"

HMRC says employers will have the “pay the arrears of wages”

As reported in Recruiter, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has revealed that a quarter of the 1,693 complaints regarding minimum wage in 2012/13 were from apprentices.

Upon announcement of the rise in minimum wage, including an increase of 3p to the apprentice wage, business secretary Vince Cable spoke of  “evidence that a significant number of employers are not paying apprentices the relevant minimum wage rate.”

A report from the Low Pay Commission (LPC) found that 27% of apprentices were not paid the correct amount, a figure up 3% from last year. 42% of apprentices aged between 18-20 were underpaid, with a quarter earning less than GBP2.65 per hour. Apprentices falling into their age bracket in their second year of training should be getting GBP5.03 an hour. This discrepancy could be put down the lack of information surrounding apprenticeships and apprentice wages.

An HMRC spokesperson tells Recruiter: “Where an employer is found to have abused the minimum wage rules, they are required to pay the arrears of wages back at current rates and a financial penalty. Where the failure to pay is deliberate, employers risk being named and could be prosecuted.”