Posts Tagged ‘minimum wage’

The worst excuses for not paying minimum wage

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Minimum wage exists for a good reason – it’s the baseline rate that all employers are required to pay their staff, and as such, at least in theory, it guarantees a certain standard of living for the working people of Britain.

But in some cases, the wage is simply not being paid – and part of HMRC’s remit is to enforce the standard.

The public body recently released some of the worst excuses they have been given by employers who fail to pay the full amount. We can presume that they have done this in order to demonstrate to businesses that there exists no good reason to deny workers a fair, living wage – and we are doing our bit to spread this information by sharing some of those excuses here.

  • An employer gave this excuse: ‘When the national minimum wage goes up I do increase the amount I pay a little, even if the total pay is still below. I don’t think its right to ignore the rises.’ This person may not have ignored the law outright, but neither did he make much effort to follow it.
  • ‘I don’t think my workers know anything about the national minimum wage because they don’t speak English.’ Rights are of course granted even to those who don’t know they exist.
  • In the same vein: ‘It wasn’t a conscious decision to say “I’m not going to pay this,” but I’ve never really considered doing it because I’ve not had people come to me and say, “I’m not getting paid enough” or, “Is this the minimum wage?”‘ Workers may not know their rights, or they may simply fear losing their jobs if they cause a fuss. The law does not apply only to those who have the clout to ask for a raise.
  • Another employer told HMRC: ‘I know I am paying them too little, but they are happy to work for this amount because they are getting experience.’ Workers must be paid the minimum wage except in select circumstances, for example, as part of a formal course of education.

‘Most employers are honest and pay their staff the correct rate,’ said Jennie Granger, director general of enforcement and compliance at HMRC. ‘But this research shows that some still view the national minimum wage as a choice and will even try these crazy excuses to avoid paying workers what they are due.’

Last year, HMRC forced back-pay of £4 mn to workers who had not received their wages in full. The minimum wage is currently £6.31 an hour for those over 21.

Calls for businesses to pay ‘living wage’ as poverty rises among the employed

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Businesses are being called upon to pay staff a wage in line with the rising cost of living, as the number of ‘working poor’ increases.

Around 13 million people in the UK are currently classed as in poverty, and last December, for the first time, it was found that more than half of them were in work.

It is currently estimated that a person must earn £8.80 per hour to support themselves in London and £7.65 elsewhere – though the minimum wage for those over 21 is set at only £6.31.

A report by the Living Wage Commission states states UK employment is becoming ‘increasingly unequal’, with 420,000 more people being paid below  ‘living wage’ in the past 12 months.

The report also states that 5.24mn workers – more than a fifth of the workforce – are paid below living wage.

The pressure is on businesses of all sizes to demonstrate their commitment to their employees and to the economic recovery by raising wages to a ‘more realistic’ standard.

However, many businesses are also struggling financially, and their swansea accountants may tell them they can ill afford to raise wages across the board – at least, not without potentially losing clients by demanding higher prices.

There are said to be a number of causes for the rise in the working poor. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation contends that a rise in part-time work and zero-hour contracts have lowered unemployment on paper, but done little to help people out of poverty.

So while there may be more people in work than this time last year, there is little indication that there are significantly more hours being worked.

Additionally, minimum wage has not risen in line with the cost of living nor inflation, resulting in many becoming unable to enjoy the quality of life they are used to.

Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Foundation, said: ‘We have a labour market that lacks pay and protection, with jobs offering precious little security and paltry wages that are insufficient to make ends meet.

‘While a recovery may be gathering momentum in the statistics and official forecasts, for those at the bottom, improving pay and prospects remain a mirage.’

Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York and chair of the Living Wage Commission, said: ‘The idea of “making work pay” increasingly sounds like an empty slogan to the millions of people who are hard-pressed and working hard and struggling to make a living.’

Economists warn that the proliferation of low-pay, low-skill work is incompatible with the needs of a first world country.