Low-paying sectors come under government scrutiny

The government has unveiled a sector-based approach to tackling non-payment of the national minimum wage.

The initiative will focus initially on the hairdressing sector in a pilot that, if successful, will lead to other low-paid sectors being targeted in the future, employment minister Gerry Sutcliffe said.

Hairdressing is a relatively small employment sector, but one which has attracted a number of complaints.

The government also announced a criminal investigations strategy, which aims to tackle hard-core offenders who regularly or deliberately fail to pay the minimum wage.

The Department of Trade and Industry and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will now begin to identify employers who will be targeted for prosecution.

“While the vast majority of employers, included hairdressers, are happy to pay at least the national minimum wage, we believe that a small number are continuing to pay too little,” Sutcliffe said.

“This new approach will direct resources to where they are needed most. We will not tolerate non-payment of the national minimum wage.”

In February, the government announced that the main rate for workers aged 22 and over will be increased to £5.05 an hour, and the development rate for workers aged 18-21 will increase to £4.25 an hour. These new rates take effect from October.

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