‘Name and shame’ scheme for
pay cheats

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The Government has defended its decision to start naming and shaming employers who fail to pay staff the national minimum wage as part of a newly revised scheme.

Business Minister Jo Swinson admitted that the current system of issuing financial penalties had not sufficiently deterred companies from denying workers a legal wage. She said “certainly the vast majority of those if not all should have been named”.

Ms Swinson told BBC’s Today: “I am introducing these changes to make sure that we do pursue employers that aren’t properly living up to the law and paying their workers a proper wage.

“And, of course, it’s quite right that when you have a system, that you review and see if it’s working, and if it’s not working then you make changes and work out what you can do to improve things, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Ms Swinson insisted that safeguards were in place to ensure firms were not named in error.

“Employers do get sent notification if an investigation has found that they are not paying the national minimum wage, and they have at that point an opportunity to challenge it if it’s an error,” said Ms Swinson.

“If it’s been sent to the wrong company (that’s got a similar name, for example), or indeed if they dispute the details of it, they can appeal the decision and that will remain, and I think that deals with the concerns about errors.”

Ms Swinson said it was unfair to businesses which respect the law to not penalise those that flout it.

“I understand that employers won’t want to be named, but of course we’re only talking about employers that are breaking the law and the vast majority of employers are law-abiding, pay their employees properly, and therefore they shouldn’t be disadvantaged by some of their competitors that might be getting away with paying less than the minimum wage.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It is right to name and shame the minimum wage rogues, so that other employers who think they can get away with paying illegal poverty wages get the message loud and clear that cheating does not pay.”