DO you know for certain you are getting paid the National Minimum Wage? 

Hundreds of companies have been named and shamed by the Government for underpaying thousands of workers a total of almost £1 million.

The biggest ever list of offenders included employers in hairdressing, retail, hospitality and care homes.

Excuses for underpaying workers included using tips to top up pay, docking wages to pay for Christmas parties, and making staff pay for their own uniforms.

Retail giant Debenhams was accused of failing to pay almost £135,000 to just under 12,000 workers.

The company said it made a technical error in its payroll calculations, which resulted in an average underpayment of around £10 per person to affected workers in 2015.

In Essex, the following companies made the list:

  • Debenhams Retail plc, which failed to pay £134,894.83 to 11,858 workers nationwide
  • Mr Graham Steel trading as Snack Attack, Clacton, failed to pay £4,221.78 to one worker
  • Little Legs Limited, Brentwood, failed to pay £3,432.95 to one worker
  • Crouch Street Hair & Beauty Salon Ltd trading as Faces Hair & Beauty, failed to pay £668.91 to one worker
  • Arthur Anthony Kitchens Ltd, Chelmsford, failed to pay £419.52 to one worker.

Business minister Margot James said: "Every worker in the UK is entitled to at least the national minimum or living wage and this government will ensure they get it.

"That is why we have named and shamed more than 350 employers who failed to pay the legal minimum, sending the clear message to employers that minimum wage abuses will not go unpunished."

So what is the National Minimum Wage?

The current hourly rates are: 

  • 25 and over - £7.20
  • 21 to 24 - £6.95
  • 18 to 20 - £5.55
  • Under 18 - £4
  • Apprentice - £3.40

The rates change every April. So in April 2017 the new rates will be:

  • 25 and over - £7.50
  • 21 to 24 - £7.05
  • 18 to 20 - £5.60
  • Under 18 - £4.05
  • Apprentice - £3.50

Who is entitled? 

Workers must be at least school leaving age (last Friday in June of the school year they turn 16) to get the National Minimum Wage. They must be 25 or over to get the National Living Wage.

Contracts for payments below the minimum wage are not legally binding. The worker is still entitled to the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage.

Other workers who are entitled include:

  • part-time
  • casual labourers, for example someone hired for one day
  • agency workers
  • workers and homeworkers paid by the number of items they make
  • apprentices
  • trainees, workers on probation
  • disabled workers
  • agricultural workers
  • foreign workers
  • seafarers
  • offshore workers

And who isn't entitled?

People doing work experience or internships and people carrying out voluntary work are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.


  • self-employed people running their own business
  • company directors
  • volunteers or voluntary workers
  • workers on a government employment programme, such as the Work Programme
  • members of the armed forces
  • family members of the employer living in the employer’s home
  • non-family members living in the employer’s home who share in the work and leisure activities, are treated as one of the family and aren’t charged for meals or accommodation, for example au pairs
  • workers younger than school leaving age (usually 16)
  • higher and further education students on a work placement up to 1 year
  • workers on government pre-apprenticeships schemes
  • people on the following European Union programmes: Leonardo da Vinci, Youth in Action, Erasmus, Comenius
  • people working on a Jobcentre Plus Work trial for 6 weeks
  • share fishermen
  • prisoners
  • people living and working in a religious community

How can I check I am being paid the correct amount?

The Government has an online test for workers to check their own payslips.

Click HERE to take the test.