Not all employers are playing by the rules when it comes to pay. Is yours one of them? This Fair Pay Fortnight (16 February to 1 March), the TUC is calling for the government to publicly name and shame companies paying less than the National Minimum Wage. Welcome news then this week when they started to do just that. Now we need more of the same.
In our last blog, we pointed out the large gap between the legal minimum wage and what workers need to cover the real cost of living in Britain today. So it beggars belief that some unscrupulous employers are still trying to get away with paying even less. But that’s exactly what 70 companies have been exposed as doing, fleecing their workers to the tune of £157,000. The TUC welcomes this news but we’re calling on the government to out the hundreds of other minimum wage cheats they know about as soon as possible to stamp out this criminal behaviour. As TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“We need more prosecutions and higher fines. Cheating bosses who fleece their workers out of their hard earned pay must end up in court.”
What should you be getting? Until October 2015 the current National Minimum Wage hourly rates are set at £6.50 if you are 21 or over, £5.13 in the 18-20 age bracket, and £3.79 if you are under 18 (the rates for apprentices can be found here).
What can you do? If you aren’t getting these legal minimum rates, your employer has a case to answer, and a trade union is often the best place to start. In unionised workplaces, union reps are your most effective voice in pay negotiations and will be very concerned to see that employers aren't breaking the law on minimum wages. Even though you have a legal right to complain without fear of the sack or harassment, raising this tricky issue could leave you feeling very exposed. A union rep can complain on your behalf without identifying and exposing you or your colleagues to that risk. If your workplace is not unionised, you may still be able to join as an individual union member and ask for help from a union officer. They can explain your rights and assist in making the complaint. They may also be able to provide you with legal support. You can find the union that best represents you here. You can also talk to the HMRC National Minimum Wage Enforcement Team, who can investigate and prosecute non-payment cases. You can start by calling the confidential Pay and Work Rights helpline on 0300 123 1100.