UK bosses have been urged to better prepare for the National Living Wage (NLW) and avoid potential legal action by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) as it emerged only 45% of employers had updated their payrolls.

The survey of 1,000 UK businesses for the BIS also revealed only 39% had communicated the upcoming changes to staff and 29% looked online for information on the NLW, which will see wages for the over-25s rise to at least £7.20 per hour on 1 April 2016.

The BIS urged businesses to adopt a four-point plan to prepare for the changes: find out the correct rate of pay; determine who will be eligible for the pay rise; update the payroll in time for 1 April; and inform staff as soon as possible.

The survey’s findings came despite its suggesting a generally positive attitude towards the NLW, with 93% of bosses saying it was a good idea and 88% believing it would make staff more productive.

Business Minister Nick Boles said: “The government’s new National Living Wage will provide a direct boost to over two-and-a-half million workers in the UK – rewarding and providing security for working people.

“I am urging businesses to get ready now to pay the new £7.20 rate from 1 April 2016. With just under four months left, there are some easy steps employers can take to make sure they are ready.

“By taking these measures, companies will be able to properly reward their staff and avoid falling foul of the law when it takes effect.”

Some companies, including Costa Coffee and Speciality Breads, have already raised wages ahead of the legislation coming into effect and have applied the change regardless of age.