18/01/2015 - Minimum wage cheats made to pay

minimumwage237 employers have just been fined for failing to pay the minimum wage. Some big names are amongst the culprits who have been named and shamed: high street fashion retailer H&M and motorway service provider Welcome Break.

H&M failed to pay £2,604.87 to 540 workers, and Welcome Break Holdings, the motorway services provider, sought to swindle £1,318.70 from 19 workers.

The rogue bosses owed workers a total of £177,000 in arrears and were fined £51,000 for non-compliance, the business department said.

“Paying less than the minimum wage is illegal, immoral and completely unacceptable,” said business minister Jo Swinson. In addition to naming the employers, the government would help workers recover the pay owed to them, she added.

At least 300,000 people, about 1 per cent of UK employees, are estimated to be paid below the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour for those over 21. Hotel, catering, care home and cleaning staff are amongst those most likely to be cheated.

“There can be no excuse for paying less than the legal minimum wage,” said Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress. “Ministers must step up the pressure on cheating bosses with more prosecutions, higher fines and a bigger team of enforcement officers to catch the cheats.”

In welcome news the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the minimum wage enforcement budget would be increased by a further £3m in 2015-16 to £12.2m.