The National Minimum Wage was introduced to Britain in April 1999 and established as a way of fairly paying all of those in employment. Since that day it has been a requirement for all businesses to pay their staff in accordance with the National Minimum Wage.
It has recently been announced that Jo Swinson, the UK’s business Minister has fined a number of employers who have been discovered to be paying their staff below the amount required by the NMW. In total 37 businesses including a motorway service provider and a popular high street fashion retailer have been found to have been underpaying staff.
The total amount which was owed to the underpaid employees has been calculated to be £177,000. The companies have also been fined a total of £51,000 for non-compliance.
Some companies and smaller business who have been caught in the net have made claims that they were taking on trainees or young people who were in their role for experience and didn’t expect a wage. These companies have also been pursued for unpaid wages and it is yet to be established whether or not they will have to pay.
There are currently around 300,000 employees in the UK who are believed to be getting less than the legal minimum wage for their work (£6.50 per hour for those individuals over 21). It is also thought that those to be the most vulnerable are employees in the hotel, cleaning and care industries – possibly due to the high turn over of staff and lower need for qualifications.
Ms Swinson has been quoted as saying that paying staff less than the agreed and legal minimum wage is “illegal, immoral and completely unacceptable.” She also advised that the government would be helping each of the underpaid workers retrieve any monies they were owed by their companies, as well as publicly naming each and every business that was found to be underpaying their staff.
The government have said that there really is no excuse for employers not paying their staff correctly and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has stated that they will be increasing the minimum wage enforcement allowance by £3m between 2015 and 2016, making it a staggering £12.2m.
An Increase in the Minimum Wage
This news has come just as the Labour party put pressure on the government to increase the minimum wage to a new high of £8 per hour in the hope of helping lower paid workers.
Since coming into power in 2013, the current government have already had to name 55 employers who have been underpaying their staff and forced over £139,000 of arrears to be paid back.