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HMRC becomes the saviour of underpaid workers everywhere

Normally I have some choice words for Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs but I have to give credit where it’s due, especially when it comes to underpaid workers.

It’s true, believe it or not: HMRC just announced that some 22,000 underpaid minimum wage workers have been awarded some £4.6 million in arrears thanks to the taxman’s diligence. The Government of course says that the record haul is due to the new focus that HMRC has placed upon its National Minimum Wage enforcement teams to make sure that any Brit that puts in his or her full faith and measure of work doesn’t end up being stiffed by an under-paying employer.

The average take was around £205 for each worker, based on the more than 1,450 investigations the taxman carried out in the 2013-2014 tax year. Nearly half of those investigations ended up in resulting with arrears owed to workers. In other words, instead of HMRC sending out its innumerable teams to harass contractors for supposed IR35 infringement or other such rubbish it’s actually working for individual Brits instead – and for what it’s worth I’d much rather see instances like this occur instead of more thoughtless persecution of the self-employed.

In fact, I’d be more than in favour of increasing the power of these enforcement teams to go after even more unpaid wages so that hard-working Brits get every penny that they’ve earned. I take a decidedly dim view of employers that decide to minimise their outgoings by cutting corners on paying their workers what they’ve earned, regardless of the condition of the economy or whatever hard times their business might have fallen upon. Right now there’s really no excuse for that behaviour, considering how the economy has more than began to turn itself around and there’s a serious upswing on production. The only thing that could possibly detract from our economic recovery as a nation at the moment would be the skills shortage, but that has no bearing on individuals that are already employed; in fact you would think that employers would do their damnedest to ensure they keep the handful of qualified workers they have instead of alienating them through devaluing their hard work.

I’d like to say I’m surprised by this behaviour on the part of employers, but I’m truly not. Disappointed? Oh yes. But surprised? Not in the least, I’m afraid.

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