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‘Don’t Short-Change Christmas Staff’, Employers Urged

Employers are being reminded they must pay their workers at least the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage this festive season, including seasonal staff and students.

Businesses may need extra staff over Christmas and the New Year and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is stressing the importance of paying them the right rate.

Whether workers are employed on permanent, short-term or zero-hours contracts; for full or part-time hours; or as temporary seasonal staff, they are all legally entitled to be paid the minimum wage for their age, or the apprenticeship rate for first year apprentices, for all of their time spent working.

Employers need to check beyond the hourly rate of pay and be aware that any unpaid working time this festive season – such as time spent opening and closing a shop, training, picking up extra shifts and working longer hours – can lead to payment mistakes. Deductions, for things like uniforms or tools, can also reduce pay rates.

In 2022-23, HMRC identified wage arrears of £13.7 million due to more than 108,000 UK workers. And employers who break minimum wage rules can face penalties of up to 200% of the underpayments owed to workers and must pay the outstanding arrears due to workers on top of the penalty.

Marc Gill, Director Individuals and Small Business Compliance, HMRC, said:

“We want to make sure that all workers, including seasonal staff and students, are being paid what they are due this festive period, which is why we are asking employers to check what they pay.

“It is not just about the hourly pay rate, look out for any deductions or unpaid working time, including training time, which could take workers below the minimum wage.

“HMRC can help employers to get things right and there is plenty of information available. We look into every minimum wage complaint, so do not risk short-changing your staff.”

The National Minimum Wage hourly rates are currently:

    • £10.42 – Age 23 and over (National Living Wage)
    • £10.18 – Age 21 to 22
    • £7.49 – Age 18 to 20
    • £5.28 – Age under 18
    • £5.28 – Apprentice

Employers can access support at any time to ensure they are paying their workers correctly: