8 January 2015
Enforcement of the national minimum wage must be continuously improved in order to combat those employers who are actively trying to find ways not to pay their workers properly, says a new report published today (Thursday) by the TUC.
Enforcing the National Minimum Wage – Keeping up the Pressure says that whilst most employers are happy to pay up, a minority have developed a wide range of scams, including under-recording hours, bogus self-employment, misusing interns and volunteers, charging for uniforms, not paying for travel between work sites during the working day, clocking workers off when there are no customers in the store or cafe, and employers vanishing to avoid minimum wage fines only to reappear under another name.
Apprentices are particularly likely to be underpaid, with a recent government survey suggesting that 120,000 are paid less than the relevant minimum wage rate.
Successive governments have already made some worthwhile improvements to minimum wage enforcement. But new ways of cheating or avoiding the minimum wage have emerged on a regular basis, so constant vigilance is needed.
The TUC plan outlines a 10-point programme of continuous improvement during the next parliament:
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Failing to pay the minimum wage is an antisocial act that squeezes those workers who have the least. There should be no hiding place for cheapskate bosses who try to cheat their workers out of the minimum wage.
“We must engage in a constant battle to ensure that every worker gets at least the minimum. It is clear that some employers are actively looking for new ways not to pay even the legal minimum.
“There should be a broad consensus between political parties, good employers and trade unions that the minimum wage must always be enforced effectively. We urge everyone to support the TUC’s plan for ensuring continuous improvement to the minimum wage system.”
The TUC report also identifies ten groups of workers who are particularly at risk of underpayment: apprentices, migrant workers, domestic workers, interns and bogus volunteers, false self-employment, zero-hours contracts including temporary agency workers, social care, workers whose accommodation is dependent on their job, seafarers, and umbrella employment schemes.
The minimum wage, introduced in 1999, enjoys support from business leaders and trade unions alike and is a matter of political consensus. But the report estimates that at least 250,000 workers are not being paid the legal minimum wage.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- The TUC plan Enforcing the National Minimum Wage – Keeping up the Pressure can be found at: https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/ImprovingNationalMinimumWag%20Enforcement.pdf
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @tucnews