Bosses face minimum wage crackdown

National minimum wage

08.10.2008

Bosses who fail to pay the national minimum wage will face a Government crackdown after the latest increase comes into effect this month.

Tough new penalties come into force next April, including fines for employers who genuinely forget to increase wages when a worker turns 22.

The Employment Bill introduces an automatic fine of up to £5,000, while the most serious cases carrying unlimited penalties will be tried in a crown court.

In the past year, enforcement officers investigated more than 4,100 employers and secured £3.9 million in arrears for 19,000 workers. Since the minimum wage was introduced in 1999, £30 million in unpaid wages was returned to 100,000 workers.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of union Unison, said: "With rogue employers constantly seeking new ways to evade paying the minimum wage, the Government must be vigilant in enforcing it.

"The rise to £5.73 is a welcome cushion. However, with the price of everyday essentials such as food, gas and electricity going up massively, it won't lift enough working people out of the poverty trap."

The adult hourly rate goes up from £5.52 to £5.73, for 18 to 22-year-olds from £4.60 to £4.77, and for 16- and 17-year-olds from £3.40 to £3.53.

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James Wright from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "Employers have historically been given several opportunities to comply with national minimum wage requirements before being penalised. The tougher penalties are backed with a new enforcement framework. Employers should ensure pay rates for all staff comply with the requirements."