how the number of workers identified as being illegally underpaid had risen to more than 400 in 2013/14, with the bulk being in the Swansea-centred SA postcode area. Total arrears for workers in that year came to £112,320.
Now, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jane Ellison has confirmed in response to a Parliamentary Question from Shadow Wales Office Minister Gerald Jones that there have been no prosecutions of employers in Wales for paying less than the minimum wage since the Tories came to power six and a half years ago.
“It’s a complete disgrace that in 2016 we still have employers unlawfully paying people less than the minimum wage, but worse, we have a government in Westminster which two years after the evidence was revealed still hasn’t prosecuted anyone for doing it.
“Unscrupulous businesses will break the law and exploit people if they think they can get away with it, and under the Tories because of their lack of action it’s clear they can.
“We need real action to crack down on these exploitative employers to make sure workers get a fair deal and to ensure it’s a level playing field for responsible business who are paying what they should.”
“The UK Government’s continuing failure to uphold the law when rogue employers fail to pay their workers the minimum wage is a 21st century Dickensian scandal.A spokeswoman for HMRC said:
“It has been years since I first raised the issue of employers failing to abide by the law and two years since I raised the matter of these 400 workers being paid less than the minimum wage. It’s unacceptable that the government has failed to act yet again.
“The Conservatives are simultaneously weakening trades unions’ rights while also failing to ensure that working people are paid the wages they are legally entitled to. For all their rhetoric about being on the side of ordinary people, it is clear that the Tories continue to act against the interests of working class people.
Plaid Cymru demands that the UK Government takes immediate action to hold companies that flout employment law to account. If employers break the law, they should face the full force of it.
“Plaid Cymru is in favour of increasing the minimum wage to the Living Wage as set out by the Living Wage Foundation.
“We believe that workers deserve a fair day’s pay for doing a fair day’s work – a principle we will strive to put into practice when we are in government.”
“We have a strong enforcement record and our performance speaks for itself. There has been a significant increase in our 2015/16 performance compared to 2014/15, with three times the amount of arrears reclaimed (£10.3m) for twice as many workers (58,000).
“Since the introduction of the National Minimum Wage in 1999, HMRC has completed more than 70,000 NMW investigations and reclaimed over £68m of underpaid wages for over 313,000 workers. All businesses, irrespective of their size or business sector, are responsible for paying the correct minimum wage to their staff.“The vast majority of responsible employers make sure they get it right. HMRC continues to crack down on employers who ignore the law, ensuring that their employees receive the wages they are entitled to.“Punishment for not complying with the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage can include fines of up to 200% of the arrears owed, naming in the national press, and, for the worst offences, criminal prosecution.“We always take action where we believe an employer is not paying its workers the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage to ensure every worker receives what they are legally entitled to. We do not discuss individual cases.“HMRC ensures that every complaint made by a worker through the ACAS Helpline is fully assessed for National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage compliance.“In 2015/16, we investigated 2,667 businesses, recovering £10.3m of underpaid wages for 58,080 workers.”
So the investigations and evidence are there so why no prosecutions.
Recovering the Wages is all well and good but until employers are taken to court they will regard this as a risk worth taking.
Is this evidence that after Brexit and if Reports that Theresa May is considering fighting the next election with a pledge to take the UK out of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) are correct will the Tories eventually scrap the .minimum wage