Last week the government announced it would resume naming and shaming employers who fail to pay the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
Good news for those struggling on poverty pay, but let's not forget that it was the government that suspended the practice in the first place!
Trade unions have campaigned for a return of naming and shaming since that bad decision was made two years ago.
This week’s u-turn is a victory for that campaign, but there’s a catch. Compared with the old scheme, fewer employers will be named.
A controversial change to the rules means the minimum arrears threshold for naming and shaming will rise from £100 to £500.
If this threshold had been in place under the old rules, it would have excluded about a quarter of cases.
Solidarity thinks that the threshold is too low. Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity commented:
"Solidarity, like our brothers and sisters in other unions, wants to see employers who steal from their workers by failing to pay the minimum wage named and shamed. It's a big deterrent to bad employers tempted to do this.
"Workers or trade unions with concerns about pay levels can take complaints either to an Employment Tribunal or to the HM Revenue and Customs National Minimum Wage Compliance Unit. HMRC imposes a "civil penalty" on the employer. This is double the total amount owed, up to a maximum of £20,000 per worker, with the penalty halved for quick payment. The penalties HMRC impose is one reason our union favours that route over an Employment Tribunal. The employer must also pay arrears back to the workers at the current minimum wage rate. In addition, employers who have received civil penalties will now, once more, be publicly named and shamed. It's great news that a bad decision has now, thanks to union persistence, been reversed."
If you are concerned about any minimum wage issues, contact Solidarity for advice.
This article first appeared in 'British Worker' the weekly internal newsletter of the Solidarity union.