A new law to toughen up the enforcement of the national minimum wage
comes into force today, ensuring workers can claim arrears for past
Employment relations minister Gerry Sutcliffe welcomed the new law,
which will give minimum wage enforcement officers the power to ensure
minimum wage arrears are paid after workers are no longer working for
the employer in question.
Gerry Sutcliffe said:
'The government is determined to make sure that all workers,
including those who have left for new jobs, are paid what they are
'This new legislation restores the position following an adverse
tribunal ruling last year, and will ensure that the Inland Revenue
can again take enforcement action in all complaint cases for former
'The national minimum wage is one of the government's finest
achievements, but we are not complacent when it comes to enforcing
the rules and, where necessary, we will tighten them up.
'Anyone who thinks they are not being paid the minimum wage should
call the minimum wage helpline on 0845 6000 678.'
The government has also laid regulations before Parliament to
introduce substantial increases in the minimum wage rates. The adult
rate of the minimum wage will be increased from £4.20 to £4.50 and
the development rate will be increased from £3.60 to £3.80. Between
1.3 and 1.6 million low- paid workers will stand to benefit from
1. The National Minimum Wage (Enforcement Notices) Act amends the
parent legislation (the National Minimum Wage Act 1998) to ensure
that officers can once again issue enforcement notices to require the
payment of the minimum wage arrears on behalf of former as well as
2. The legislation was deemed necessary following an Employment
Appeals Tribunal decision in August 2002 (in the case of Bebb Travel
v Inland Revenue) which ruled that the National Minimum Wage Act 1998
meant that minimum wage enforcement officers were not entitled to
issue enforcement notices claiming minimum wage arrears on behalf of
former workers. In order to restore the situation the Government
brought forward the National Minimum Wage (Enforcement Notices) Bill
2003 as a priority. This Bill restores the right of enforcement
officers to issue notices on behalf of former workers; it gained
Royal Assent on 8 May and came into effect on 8 July 2003. The Bill
will also allow the Revenue to take action in respect of cases
involving former workers that have arisen in the past. The Revenue is
therefore presently reviewing all of these cases that have arisen
since last August.
3. The Inland Revenue is responsible for enforcing compliance with
the national minimum wage legislation. Its compliance officers
respond to all complaints about underpayment and take action to
ensure that the appropriate minimum rate and any arrears of wages due
are paid to the worker.
4. Anyone who thinks they are not being paid the minimum wage should
call the helpline on 0845 6000 678 or use the interactive website -
www.tiger.gov.uk - which provides guidance for both employees and
5. The current main (adult) national minimum wage rate is £4.20 per
hour for workers aged 22 or over. The development rate is £3.60 per
hour and applies to workers aged 18-21 inclusive. Workers under the
age of 18 do not qualify for the national minimum wage.
6. The government has also accepted the recommendations in the Low
Pay Commission's fourth report that new minimum wage rates should
apply from 1 October 2003. These are £4.50 per hour for workers aged
22 or over and £3.80 per hour for those aged 18-21. The government
recently laid regulations to introduce these increases and these will
be debated in Parliamen t later this month.