Thousands cheated out of minimum wage

Oct 15 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Thousands of workers are still being cheated out of the minimum wage by dishonest employers, according to research by the TUC.

Although around £13 million has been recovered from lawbreaking bosses since the minimum wage was introduced on 1 April 1999, the TUC estimates that around 170,000 workers are still taking less money home than the law says they should be.

To try to help track down those employers who are deliberately avoiding paying their staff £4.50 an hour (or £3.80 an hour if theyíre aged 18-21), the TUC and the Low Pay Network have published a new edition of their enforcement guide to the minimum wage.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ďWith millions of pounds already retrieved from employers failing to pay the minimum wage, the Inland Revenue teams responsible for enforcement are clearly doing a good job.

"But TUC figures suggest that there are many more workers out there still losing out. There must be no hiding place for rogue bosses."

Sarah Pugh, Employment Rights Development Officer at the West Midlands Employment and Low Pay Unit said: "Being paid a minimum amount for working is a basic right which no worker should miss out on - this guide is intended to help advisers and union reps to understand the law so they can better assist workers to secure their rights."

The TUC says that workers being cheated out of the minimum wage are most likely to be employed in the clothing, footwear and retail sectors, or work as hairdressers, domestic workers or housekeepers.

Many migrant workers employed by gangmasters in agriculture and food production, as well as in unregistered textile factories are also frequently paid less than the national minimum wage.