BUSINESSES are being warned they face financial penalties and potential director’s disqualification if they are not prepared for changes to statutory wage payments next month.

Companies must ensure their rates of pay comply with the new charges if they are to avoid enforcement action from HMRC.

Statutory payment rates are reviewed by the Government every year and from April 1 the National Living Wage hourly rate will increase from £7.83 to £8.21.

In turn, the National Minimum Wage will rise to £7.70 for workers aged 21 to 24, to £6.15 for those between 18 and 20, and under 18s will see the hourly rate increasing to £4.35.

The hourly pay rate for apprentices will also increase, rising to £3.90 from £3.70.

Sally Morris, partner of mfg Solicitors, which has offices in Worcester, Evesham and Kidderminster, says : “The changes to statutory pay are only a matter of months away and they represent some of the highest increases on record with over 2.4 million workers set to benefit.

“What is concerning is that many businesses across Worcestershire have still to get all of their payroll systems, pay structures and processes into place to ensure their relevant employees, including apprentices, are paid the correct rate from 1 April.

“I’m out speaking to many businesses at the moment to ensure they cover all bases as non-compliance can result in hefty fines of up to £20,000 per underpaid worker, together with the underpayment.

"Directors of companies also risk being named and shamed by HMRC if they are considered to be serious offenders.

"Prepare now to avoid huge financial and personnel issues later.”

If an employer breaks the law on minimum wage, HMRC will send them a notice for the arrears plus a fine for not paying the minimum wage. HMRC can take them to court on behalf of the worker if the employer still refuses to pay.