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Government crackdown on firms that fail to pay minimum wage

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Tough new laws aimed at cracking down on rogue employers who fail to pay their staff the national minimum wage come into force today.

Any employer found to be paying staff under the national minimum wage will be named and shamed. The Government hopes the bad publicity will be an additional deterrent to businesses.

From today the minimum wage for adults will increase by 12p to £6.31 an hour, and by 5p to £5.03 an hour for 18 to 20-year-olds.

The minimum wage 16 and 17-year-olds will receive has risen by 4p to £3.72, while the apprentice rate goes up by 3p to £2.68.

The Government said it expects more than 890,000 of Britain's lowest-paid workers will gain from these changes.

Business secretary Vince Cable said he would ask the Low Pay Commission (LPC), which advises the Government on the minimum wage each year to "look at what economic conditions would be needed to allow the national minimum wage to rise in the future by more than current conditions allow".

"I am asking them [the LPC] to extend their expertise to help the Government and business understand how we can deal with the issue of low wages in the economy," Cable said.

Unions demand more

Unions have demanded the proceeds of Britain's economic growth are shared with workers.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Years of below-inflation rises mean that the UK's lowest-paid workers are now facing an historic living standards crisis.

"As the recovery takes hold we will need to see far bigger increases to the minimum wage to ensure that ordinary people and not just the super rich benefit from economic growth.

"This will need more than any one-off pre-election boost - we will need sustained stronger rises if the real value of the minimum wage is to be restored."