Minister for employment relations names and shames employer for 'flouting' minimum wage

Norman Lamb (pictured), minister for employment relations, has named an employer under the BIS Scheme for naming employers who flout National Minimum Wage (NMW) law.

Lamb said Leicester based hair and beauty salon owner, Rita Patel trading as Treena Professional Hair & Beauty, neglected to pay £3,361.22 in arrears of the NMW to a former worker following an investigation by HMRC, which has resulted in HMRC enforcing the debt through the court.

HMRC's investigation showed over a period of four-and-a-half months, Patel paid £342.00 to a worker in her hair and beauty salon. Under the NMW Act the worker was in fact legally entitled to £3,703.22 for work undertaken during that period.

Lamb said: "The law is clear. Any worker who is entitled to the minimum wage should receive it, that's why we are committed to clamping down on those who break the law. Where arrears of the minimum wage are identified by HMRC they will always be pursued.

"There is no excuse for not paying the NMW in the first place but failing to pay on being required to do so by investigators from HM Revenue and Customs is unacceptable."

He said the Government is committed to deterring employers who would otherwise be tempted not to pay the NMW and recognises that bad publicity is an effective way of doing this. In future the Government will publicise cases where arrears of wages have to be enforced through the courts. HMRC already issues a press release where an employer has unsuccessfully appealed against a Notice of Underpayment requiring them to pay arrears of wages.

Speaking to the Leicester Mercury, Patel said: "It was a misunderstanding. I didn't appoint [the worker] for a job, I spoke to her mother before and we agreed that she would come here for training.

"I paid her for some cleaning she did. I gave her £100 here and £90 there - but I didn't keep any records.

"It's my first business and my first experience and it's only when people came and told me that I realised what I had to do."

The BIS scheme to name employers who flout minimum wage law came into effect on 1 January 2011. The scheme is one of a range of tools at the Government's disposal to tackle this issue. Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back arrears of wages at current minimum wage rates and face financial penalties of up to £5000. In the most serious cases employers can be prosecuted.