HMRC has identified £15.6m in pay owed to more than 200,000 of the UK’s lowest paid workers, following an investigation from 2017 to 2018.
This was an increase from the £10.9m that was owed to 98,000 workers in the previous year.
Earlier this year, Karen Millen, Shoe Zone and bedroom furniture retailer Feather & Black were listed among 179 companies who were said to have underpaid their staff.
HMRC launched its online complaints service in January 2017, and this has contributed to the 132% increase in the number of complaints received over the last year and the amount of money HMRC has been able to recoup for those unfairly underpaid.
The figures are published as the government launches its annual advertising campaign designed to encourage workers to take action if they are not receiving the National Living Wage or the National Minimum Wage. The online campaign, which will run over the summer, urges underpaid workers to proactively complain by completing an HMRC online form.
Business minister Andrew Griffiths said: “Employers abusing the system and paying under the legal minimum are breaking the law. Short changing workers is a red line for this government and employers who cross the line will be identified by HMRC and forced to pay back every penny, and could be hit with fines of up to 200% of wages owed.
“I would urge all workers, if you think you might be being underpaid then you should check your pay and call Acas on 0300 123 1100 for free and confidential advice.”
Penny Ciniewicz, director general of customer compliance at HMRC, added: “HMRC is committed to getting money back into the pockets of underpaid workers, and these figures demonstrate that we will not hesitate to take action against employers who ignore the law.
“We urge anyone who is concerned they are not being paid the correct rates to contact us in confidence through the Acas helpline or through our online complaints form.”