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Comply with National Minimum Wage requirements, or else!

25 June 2010 #Employment

Thirteen room attendants working at a five-star London hotel, operated by Park Plaza Hotels, have won back pay and compensation after following an investigation undertaken by the BBC programme Newsnight,  it emerged they were being paid below minimum wage.

At the time of the investigation the national minimum wage was £5.73 per hour for workers aged 22 years and over.

On average, the room attendants worked more than 40 hours per week, but were often paid for only half that as instead of receiving an hourly rate as specified in their contracts, they were instead paid according to how many rooms they cleaned per shift. In order to have earned their contractual hourly rate they would have needed to clean each room in less than 20 minutes, which could not be achieved.

Following the Newsnight broadcast, 13 workers filed claims with the Employment Tribunal, represented by the Fulham Law Centre. The case was recently settled out of court, with substantial payments made to each room attendant, according to the BBC.

If this alone is not enough to persuade employers to give their employees a fair rate of pay in accordance with the National Minimum Wage provisions, then they should read on.

An optician in Liverpool who paid his staff up to 40% less than the national minimum wage has become the first employer in the north-west England to be successfully prosecuted for national minimum wage offences. He received a fine of £3,696 from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

The optician attempted to hide the fact he wasn`t paying what he should by falsifying employee information, altering contracts and other documentation and neglecting to produce appropriate documents, HMRC said.

Mike O`Grady, HMRC`s assistant director of criminal investigations, said the sentence "sends a clear message to employers, large or small, that HMRC will actively pursue those whom we suspect of flouting national minimum wage law...If employers prevent HMRC officers from checking staff records, attempt to alter or falsify pay records and related documents and refuse to comply with the law they could receive a fine and a criminal record,"

Only 7 people have been successfully prosecuted in relation to breaches of the law relating to the national minimum wage. Civil action is usually taken first, including the issuing of an "enforcement notice" against the employer. Criminal prosecutions only pursued in respect of persistent offenders.

The National Minimum wage for workers aged 22 and over is currently £5.80 rising to £5.93 on 1 October 2010.To help ensure you are complying with the National Minimum Wage provisions, Buddy has a produced a helpful guide.

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
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