Minimum wage prosecutions are rare

18th Apr 2015

"There have been just two prosecutions for failure to pay the minimum wage in the last five years", Ed Miliband, ITV Leaders Debate, 2nd April 2015

"We've only seen two prosecutions for people who are not paying the minimum wage in the last five years." Yvette Cooper, BBC News 24, 18 April 2015.

There have—one in 2010/11 and one in 2012/13. That's out of 4,780 employers identified as not complying between 2009/10 and 2013/14.

But the majority of these will have paid arrears after receiving a formal notice of underpayment, and so won't have reached the point of prosecution.

HMRC say they only use prosecutions when there's been "deliberate non-compliance or obstructive behaviour" and on a selective and exemplary basis. The independent Low Pay Commission has said that they can also be resource intensive, though they contest that the number of prosecutions should be increased "for the most serious infringers".

Prosecutions were also almost as uncommon under the previous Government. The first prosecution for minimum wage non-compliance took place in 2007—nine years after the law was passed. To date, only nine prosecutions have ever taken place.

The number of inspections for compliance has fallen, from 3,643 in 2009/10 to 1,455 completed inspections in 2013/14.