Three in 10 (30%) respondents believe that only those who are employed in permanent job roles are entitled to the national minimum wage, according to research by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Its survey of 2,001 employees aged between 16 and 64 also found that 32% of 16 to 24-year-olds think that only people hired for permanent positions are entitled to the national minimum wage, compared to 14% of those aged over 55.
Almost all (99%) respondents who receive and check their payslip understand at least some of it, but only 62% understand all of the information displayed. Furthermore, 70% of men who receive and check their payslip say they understand all sections, compared to just 55% of women, while 9% of respondents aged between 16 and 24 and 2% of those aged over 55 admit to not understanding most of their payslip.
John Palmer, senior adviser at The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), said: “Workers should check their payslips to ensure they are getting paid at the new national minimum or living wage rates. Employers are breaking the law if they don’t pay the national minimum or living wage and businesses face a maximum fine of £20,000 per worker for not paying.”
Approximately 12% of female respondents state that they are not confident about approaching their employer to ensure they are getting the correct amount of pay, versus 5% of men. This figure is 13% among 16 to 24-year-olds, and 6% among those aged over 55.
Gillian Howard, employment lawyer, added: “Workers may not check their payslip regularly because they are trusting their employer has got their pay and deductions correct. This may not be the case, either because payroll has the wrong information, or they have misunderstood the wages and allowances.
“If [staff] think [they] have not been paid the amount [they] are entitled to, or [they] don’t understand the amounts paid and deductions made, [they should] speak to [the employer] and ask for the gross and net figures and how and what deductions have been made.”
One in 10 (10%) 25 to 34-year-olds and 15% of those aged between 16 and 24 do not receive a payslip. From 6 April 2019, all workers, including casual and zero-hour workers, are entitled to a payslip.
Andrew Johnson, advice manager at the Money and Pensions Service, said: “It’s really important that people are engaged with their money and understand their wages, so they can make informed financial decisions.
“The changes in April 2019 to the national living wage and national minimum wage are a positive step towards this. New legislation requires all employers to provide an itemised payslip, and where pay varies, the hours worked. This will make it easier to check [workers’] hourly rate and make sure [they are] being paid the correct minimum wage for [their] age.”
Individuals aged 25 or over are legally entitled to at least the national living wage, which is currently set at £8.21 an hour. Those aged under 25 are legally entitled to earn at least the national minimum wage. This is £7.70 an hour for 21 to 24-year-olds, £6.15 an hour for 18 to 20-year-olds, £4.35 an hour for those aged under 18 and £3.90 an hour for apprentices.