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Employment Law Case Update: Middlesborough Football Club v HMRC

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In 2016, Middlesborough Football Club deducted the cost of season tickets from employees' wages over a period of several weeks. HMRC stated that such deductions amounted to the club's employees being paid less than the NMW, breaching the National Minimum Wage Act 1998. The total amount deducted was around £2,000.

The Employment Tribunal (ET) initially ruled that the club was underpaying its employees and bringing their salaries below the NMW threshold. The Employment Appeal Tribunal then ruled that the club was not underpaying its employees, and that the deductions were permitted in accordance with the legislation - because Middlesborough Football Club was able to prove that its employees had requested to spread out the payments of season tickets.

Whilst this case may prompt HMRC to reconsider how it interprets the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, it also serves a useful reminder that the ET are likely to look at the intentions which both parties had when entering into an agreement to deduct costs from wages. Additionally, it reminds employers to ensure that they have a comprehensive clause within their contracts of employment, to entitle them to make lawful deductions from their employees' wages, without amounting to a payment less than National Minimum Wage.


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.