A new campaign to boost employee awareness of the increased national minimum wage was launched today.
Business secretary Peter Mandelson this morning launched the ‘It’s Your Call’ roadshow in Downing Street before it set off a three-month tour of the UK, during which it is is scheduled to stop off at 28 towns and cities to give workers advice on their entitlements and how to make a complaint if they have been underpaid.
Royal assent for the Employment Act has paved the way for new penalties to come into force in April 2009, as part of government’s crackdown on those who try to exploit workers.
Lord Mandelson said he was proud to see the difference the minimum wage had made to many people’s lives since it was introduced under his watch 10 years ago.
“More than one million workers benefited from its increase last month and it’s important that we make sure everyone knows what they’re entitled to – that’s what this campaign is all about,” he said. “Of course, most businesses treat staff fairly, but the small number who cheat their workers are flouting the law and undercutting honest competitors.
“Our changes will make sure everyone caught not paying their workers properly faces a stiff penalty – we are determined to ensure workers are paid fairly,” Mandelson added.
The changes introduce unlimited fines for non-compliance for the most serious cases, removing the maximum limit of £5,000.
More than one million people across the UK benefit from annual rises in the National Minimum Wage. On 1 October, rates rose to £5.73 for workers aged 22 and over £4.77 for 18-21 year olds and £3.53 for those aged 16 and 17.