Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Northern businesses breaking wage rules

Almost 100 businesses in the North East and Yorkshire region have been paying workers less than the minimum wage, an investigation has found.

Inspectors working for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found that 98 companies in the two regions had broken the law by paying workers less than the minimum wage during the past financial year.

Jimmy Skivington, regional organiser for the GMB union, said the figure was “absolutely outrageous”.

“I did not think that many companies were still doing this, all these years after the minimum wage was introduced,” he said. “It does certainly go on, but I had no idea it was this bad. It does happen with agency labour. People come in on short-term jobs and are not given their full employment rights.

“A lot of people are being made redundant at the moment and they are finding it very difficult. It could be that they are more likely to take work that is not in compliance with the law and, sadly, businesses are taking advantage of that.”

The Government introduced the compulsory rates in 1999. Under the law, companies must pay staff over 22 at least £5.73 an hour. Workers aged between 18 and 21 are entitled to an hourly rate of £4.77, while those under 18 should be paid no less than £3.53 an hour.

A spokesman said the HMRC is barred from revealing companies’ details by law. He said: “HMRC is unable to supply this information as identifying business names and addresses will breach HMRC’s statutory duty of confidentiality, which prevents third parties being given information about any of our customers.”

Mr Skivington said the law should be changed to take offending employers’ anonymity away.

“I would certainly like to see these companies named,” he said.

“What is the point in having laws if we do not find out who is breaking them? If anyone else breaks the law, it is reported widely. Members of the public do not get anonymity, so why should businesses?”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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