Many of us feel that we’re due a pay rise. It’s a familiar gripe for many of us: the news reports that the economy is steadily growing but you’re not seeing any of that in your pay packet. However, not even being paid the national minimum wage is a heavy blow for low earners.
In a list released today by Jo Swinson, business minister, 70 employers were added to a list of employers who have failed to pay their employees the national minimum wage. The list now totals to 162 and the 70 shamed employers exposed today owed their underpaid employees a total of £157,000 in arrears and penalty charges over £70,000. The worst of the offenders released was East Midlands Crossroads, a care provider, which had underpaid 184 employees and owed £37,500 between them. There were roughly 100 cases of underpayment in the care sector, which government ministers called “the tip of the iceberg.”
“Paying less than the minimum wage is illegal, immoral and completely unacceptable,” says Swinson. “Naming and shaming gives a clear warning to employers who ignore the rules, that they will face reputational consequences, as well as financial penalties of up to £20,000 if they don’t pay the minimum wage.”
If the steep fines aren’t enough to deter potential offenders, Swinson warned that planned legislation will see fines imposed for each underpaid employee rather than each underpaying company.
“We welcome today’s list and encourage the Government to make public the hundreds of other minimum wage cheats they know about as soon as possible. If we want to stamp out this criminal behaviour then all employers who under-pay their staff must be publicly named and shamed,” said France’s O’Grady, general secretary, TUC.
Grady also feels that there should be higher fines for cheating bosses and that those who fleece their workers of hard earned pay should face the courts.
Under the government’s name and shame scheme all underpaying employers were issued with a Notice of Underpayment (NoU). Employers then had 28 days to appeal to HMRC against the issue of the NoU; if an employer does not make an appeal, the government Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) will consider the company for naming and shaming. The employer then has 14 days to appeal if they meet exceptional criteria. Each company on the current list is to be investigated further by HM Revenue and Customs.
The naming and shaming was released just a day after a 3% rise on the adult national minimum wage was called upon by the Low Pay Commission. It seems the UK’s underpaid workers might finally be getting a little extra clink in their purse.