Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Minimum wage avoidance in Wales

I complained to the Information Commissioner after HMRC refused to provide information under the Freedom of Information Act. I asked for the locations of employers in Wales who were failing to pay the minimum wage. I've already blogged on previous investigations into minimum wage avoidance in Wales.

HMRC have now indicated that they have reconsidered their position. I have a summary of businesses breaking the minimum wage in the post-code areas covering Wales. According to HMRC between 2002-03 and 2007-08, 294 employers in the Cardiff postcode area were found not to be paying the minimum wage. In the Swansea postcode area it was 206, Newport 112 and Llandudno 81.

HMRC's U-turn is to be welcomed, but the information provided is still not detailed enough. Dodgy firms failing to pay their employees the minimum wage should be named and shamed. They are undercutting honest employers and exploiting workers - firms who comply with the law will want to see action taken. There have been no prosecutions in Wales for minimum wage avoidance, these companies have effectively got away with it! I can't understand the reluctance of the Westminster Government to prosecute companies who break the law or to make the details public. If naming and shaming is good enough for young people, why is it not good enough for criminal companies?

1 comment:

MH said...

Leanne, Well done for pursuing this. I'm amazed it's taken since July last year for them to give you even this crumb of information.

I've just done a little Googling, and I'm sure you're much better aware of things than I am. But, for the sake of others, the published "escalated enforcement process" is interesting:

Were you able to find out how many of the firms actually paid out the arrears due? And whether any "penalty notices" had been issued? And perhaps what the total sum involved was (I say that because those figures were given for Scotland, albeit a few years ago and if they gave them to the Scots, that should set a precedent for them giving them to you. Did you also contact DEFRA, who seem to have a separate responsibility to enforce the NMW in agriculture, and might keep a completely different set of records?

The other scandal is that no minimum wage prosecutions were made anywhere until August 2007. And that it appears that only 4 prosecutions have so far been made (up to July 2008).

Has anybody indicated to you that the policy is now going to change, or that they'll employ more people?