London beauty businesses caught out in minimum wage blitz


A crackdown on businesses failing to pay the National Minimum Wage in Hackney has found five employees who are potentially owed over £3,500 in unpaid wages.

Hackney Council joined forces with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Home Office Immigration Enforcement and police on 27 January, visiting seven businesses in Hackney.

Officers focused on employers in the beauty industry who were potentially flouting the law by not paying the National Minimum Wage, tax irregularities, employing illegal workers or committing other licensing, trading standards or environmental health offences.

Forty officers visited seven businesses in Hackney, resulting in:

Five employees being owed £3,500 due to suspected underpayment of National Minimum Wage

Four businesses suspected of VAT and Income Tax irregularities

Three people arrested for potential immigration offences

11 unregistered beauty/nail technicians identified

One unlicensed business – which was closed down

Two businesses were found to have no process for the safe disposal of dangerous chemicals

Two further businesses had inadequate ventilation

Over 1,000 counterfeit cigarettes were seized – some of which were gift-wrapped

All the businesses were advised on what they needed to deal with any issues. The Council will be following up with additional visits to ensure that this advice has been acted on.

Cllr Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor, Hackney Council
We already know the majority of businesses are good businesses, paying at least the national minimum wage. It is the small minority that exploit their staff that we are determined to find. 

“By carrying out regular joint operations like this we can continue to catch employers who flout the law by not paying their employees at least the national minimum wage.   

“In Hackney we want all businesses to go one step further and pay their staff the London Living Wage and help make Hackney a fair pay borough, where nobody is expected to do a hard day’s work for less than they can reasonably live on.
Cllr Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor, Hackney Council

Home Office Immigration Enforcement made three arrests during this operation.A 52-year-old Malaysian woman was found to have overstayed her visa and arrested at an address on Mare Street. A quantity of cash in excess of £1,000 was seized from this individual under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.Two Vietnamese nationals were arrested at an address on Stamford Hill after they were found to have entered the country illegally. They were a woman, aged 19, and a 28-year-old man.The Malaysian woman and Vietnamese man were transferred to immigration detention pending removal from the UK. The other woman must report to the Home Office regularly while steps are taken to remove her.

Tracy Kirkham, Assistant Director of HMRC’s National Minimum Wage team, said:

“Paying the National Minimum Wage is not optional - it’s the law. It is unacceptable for employers to cheat staff and HMRC are pleased to work with Hackney Council and other partner agencies to ensure the rules are being followed, and take action where they are not.

“We know from experience that the beauty industry is an area which can often be non-compliant in paying the National Minimum Wage and we are determined to make sure that workers in this sector receive our support and that employers follow the rules.

"Last year, more than 22,000 workers were underpaid by businesses across the UK and got back a share of over £4.6 million as a result of HMRC’s actions

"Where we find an employer ignoring the rules, we will ensure arrears are paid in full and the employer is 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:

“We are determined to tackle all forms of immigration abuse in London, as this operation shows.

“We work closely with our partners at HMRC, the Metropolitan Police Service and Hackney Council to clamp down on illegal working and the exploitation often associated with it.

“Illegal working is not victimless. It defrauds the taxpayer, undercuts honest employers and means legitimate job hunters are starved of employment opportunities.” David Seymour-Smith, head of the North London Home Office Immigration Enforcement team, said: “We are determined to tackle all forms of immigration abuse in London, as this operation shows.