Currently the UK minimum wage is £6.31 per hour for adults, this is expected to increase to £6.50 from October. Many people will benefit from this increase however there are just as many who still struggle to make ends meet. Majority of us would not be able to sustain the lifestyles we currently have if we were on minimum wage so it’s shocking that there are some companies who choose to break the law by paying workers below minimum wage.
The HMRC have been investigating employers who have been accused of such behaviour by aggrieved workers via the HMRC free helpline service. The offending business can be fined up to £20k and wage arrears being paid to workers. These investigations have led to the government releasing a list naming and shaming 25 employers who have been found guilty of short changing their staff. Looking at some of the names on the list and the amount they owe their workers varies, though it is difficult to feel any sympathy for them. When caught out, companies have come up with weak excuses for not paying the minimum wage with some even thinking that the minimum wage was more a guideline and not mandatory!
Tracking down companies who mistreat their staff by underpaying them deserve to be fined and made to pay back the money owed but what about those businesses who are struggling? Businesses who need the staff but cannot afford to pay the minimum wage. The government are looking at ways to help small businesses by putting a 2% cap on business rates but for some this change will be too late.
How will the HMRC cope with a mammoth task of policing businesses and checking they are at least paying their staff the minimum wage? Will the threat of a hefty penalty be enough to deter businesses from breaking the law and taking advantage of their workers? In the case of the 25 employers on the list they may think twice or may look for loopholes in the systems instead.