Disabled workers are being encouraged by the government to check that their employers have not been cheating them out of thousands of pounds.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said today (1 November) that disabled workers were particularly at risk of being paid below the national minimum wage.
BIS encouraged every disabled worker in low-paid employment to check that they were not being paid less than they were entitled to.
The National Minimum Wage Low Pay Commission reported last year that minimum wage jobs were more likely to be carried out by disabled people and other groups such as women, migrant workers and those with no qualifications. It found that nine per cent of disabled workers were being paid at or below minimum wage.
New minimum wage rates were introduced on 1 October, with the adult rate increasing by 12p to £6.31 an hour, and the rate for 18-20 year-olds rising by 5p to £5.03 an hour.
Employers who have not been paying the correct amount – either before or after the new rates were introduced – will have to pay back arrears to their employees.
BIS said this could lead to payouts of thousands of pounds to disabled workers.
Employers could also face a financial penalty and be publicly named and shamed by the government, under a new scheme which was introduced last month (October) and makes it easier to name organisations that break minimum wage laws.
Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat employment relations minister, said: “Just because a worker has a disability doesn’t mean that they can be paid less than the national minimum wage (NMW).
“The NMW rates changed on 1 October, and workers should check that they’re being paid the correct minimum wage by their employers.”
BIS does not have any figures to show how many disabled people are believed to be working below minimum wage level.
Anyone not being paid the correct rate should call the Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0800 917 2368 (textphone: 0800 121 4042) or visit www.gov.uk for more information