National minimum wage amendment in place from January 1

Schemes that operate at the moment allow part of employees’ pay, which would normally be subject to tax and NIC, to be replaced with expenses payments for travel The amendment means that expenses for travel to a temporary workplace and related subsistence costs can no longer form part of employees’ pay for national minimum wage purposes.

The amendment does not apply in relation to any pay reference period beginning before 1st January 2011.

Temporary workers paid at or near the National Minimum Wage (NMW) can participate in travel and subsistence schemes, operated by some employment businesses and umbrella companies. These are designed to provide tax and NICs savings while complying with NMW rules.

According to the Government, many of these schemes are “exploitative as the employer retains most of the financial benefits and the workers have little or no knowledge of how these schemes work”.

The Government also says that “participation may adversely affect workers’ access to earnings-related social security benefits. Those businesses not wishing to operate these schemes for NMW workers suffer a competitive disadvantage, leading to market distortion.”

The Government says the amendment will address the issue of exploitation and the potential adverse impact on workers’ access to social security benefits and will create a level playing field for employment businesses.

XpertHR FAQs on the national minimum wage

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