ICAEW-qualified Elizabeth Raikes took an opportunity on the blog of institute chief executive Michael Izza to warn professionals about HM Revenue & Customs aggressiveness relating to minimum wage penalty enforcement recently
Having been interviewed under caution by HM Revenue & Customs, the body
in charge of enforcing the DTI’s penalty regime, Raikes was in a good position
to discuss the matter.
Raikes’ organisation, Torbay County Council, had not provided information on
the number of staff employed on the minimum wage after several requests. The
government is taking the minimum wage rules very seriously, and HMRC equally in
Managers, directors, secretaries can be found to have committed an offence if
information is not supplied to HMRC minimum wage staff under the Minimum Wages
Act 1998. And in January 2007 a new penalty regime was introduced, as well as
increasing resources to deal with minimum wages.
Employers could be fined more than £200 per worker for not correcting
underpayment to staff within seven days of being notified by HMRC.
Non-compliance with the rules could lead to a criminal offence resulting in a
£5,000 fine. While HMRC would not discuss the details of Raikes’ situation, the
department outlined its role as enforcer.
HMRC has 16 minimum wage enforcement teams operating around the UK. Their job
is to follow up complaints about non-payment of the minimum wage and to
investigate employers at risk of not complying with the minimum wage
‘HMRC impartially investigate cases brought to our attention. Where
appropriate we rigorously pursue those employers we suspect of not complying
with the minimum wage rules and we use the legal sanctions, including penalties
and criminal prosecution, available to us.’
‘We’ve sorted out our processes. We all make mistakes,’ Raikes told
Accountancy Age. Her ordeal was revealed on a blog set up by ICAEW chief
executive Michael Izza. She spoke of the interview as a response to Izza’s
request for comments on how accountants’ relationship with HMRC had changed in