Farm businesses need to be prepared if faced with a compliance check
Farmers have been warned to make sure they have complied with minimum wage law, as HMRC has started compliance checks in the rural sector.
Both National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage will increase on April 1.
Chartered accountants Saffrey Champness warned a series of compliance checks appeared to be underway to ensure businesses were paying their staff at least the minimum wage they were entitled to.
The National Living Wage, which applies to all workers over the age of 25, will rise by 30p/hour to £7.50/hour, but farmers need to be aware of different rules for age groups, job grades and where the Agricultural Minimum Wage applied.
Liz Brierley, partner and head of the landed estates and rural business group at Saffrey Champness, said: “We would urge all employers in the rural sector to be aware of correct minimum wage levels and ensure records are correct and up-to-date.
“There can be issues with beaters, casual workers, housekeepers and temporary staff. Where there is any doubt, professional advice should be sought.”
HMRC has the power to instigate criminal prosecutions or fine employers who were suspected of refusing or wilfully neglecting to pay their staff at least minimum wage, where proper records were not kept or where false entries had been made to records.
The Government launched a £1.7 million campaign to make workers aware of what they were legally entitled to be paid in January.
In April 2016, HMRC’s enforcement budget was increased to £20m, which made more officers available to investigate minimum wage complaints.