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Hackney Council and HMRC launch crackdown on employers not paying national minimum wage


Hackney's elected Mayor, Jules Pipe has warned that the Council is launching a crackdown against rogue employers in the borough that are not paying their employees at least the national minimum wage.

Hackney Council is joining forces with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in a pilot sheme visiting businesses across the borough to identify those that are not paying the national minimum wage. It also aims to find new ways to reach employees who don't speak English or have literacy needs, and may not be aware of their legal rights.

Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney
We know the vast majority of employers in the borough are good employers paying their employees at least the national minimum wage, but we will not tolerate the small number continuing to flout the law. We have said that the Council is also committed to making Hackney a fair pay borough, where no one does a hard day’s work for less than they can reasonably live on. This is why Hackney Council already pays all its directly employed staff the London living wage and we are close to ensuring this is the case for all our contracted staff providing Council services.
Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney

Michelle Wyer, assistant director of HMRC’s national minimum wage team, said: “Paying the national minimum wage is not a choice – it’s the law. It is totally unacceptable for employers to cheat their staff in this way and we are pleased to be working with Hackney Council.

"HMRC enforces the rules, protecting workers from rogue employers and ensuring they get at least the wage to which they are legally entitled. Where an employer ignores these rules, we will take steps to ensure arrears are paid out in full and the employer fined. In the most serious cases, criminal prosecution can follow.

“Anyone who believes they are not being paid the national minimum wage can call the Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0800 917 2368."

David Seymour-Smith, head of the North London Home Office Immigration Enforcement team, said: “The use of illegal labour exploits vulnerable people, undermines honest businesses and cheats legitimate job seekers out of employment opportunities.“Working with partners like Hackney Council and HMRC we are determined to tackle businesses which continue to flout the rules.”HMRC have the formal legal powers to take action against businesses that aren’t paying the national minimum wage.

The joint action comes after Mayor Pipe wrote to Business Secretary Vince Cable, in September last year, to ask him to give councils more power to deal with rogue bosses who aren’t paying their staff at least the legal minimum.

Employers not paying at least the national minimum wage could be fined, find themselves having to back date pay to an employee or, they could even end up in court.

In the joint enforcement operations, Council enforcement teams will also be looking out for businesses that may not be in full compliance with other regulations such as health and safety, trading standards, food hygiene regulations or licensing laws or conditions. Businesses will be advised on what they need to do to comply.Home Office Immigration Enforcement will also be in attendance checking compliance with immigration rules.

The national minimum wage is a legal requirement and all employers must pay this to staff over school leaving age.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is responsible for national minimum wage policy, including the policy on compliance and enforcement. HMRC enforce the national minimum wage on BIS' behalf.

The national minimum wage rate per hour depends on age and whether or not someone is an apprentice. Anyone aged 21 and over should receive a minimum of £6.31* per hour.  

Hackney Council began a campaign in 2013 to make employees in the borough aware of the national minimum wage. Any employee not being paid at least the national minimum wage should call the Government Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0800 917 2368, Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm Saturday, 9am to 1pm. The service is free and confidential. The helpline also has a free translation service available in over 100 languages. Employees can should visit the HMRC website.

The London Living Wage is paid voluntarily by employers and is currently set at £8.80 per hour.   

Hackney Council is a London Living Wage (LLW) employer and could be the first local authority in London to become fully LLW compliant next year for contracted services.