|08 July 2003|
Government beefs up minimum wage law
|Under new laws designed to beef up the enforcement of the national minimum wage payments, workers can claim arrears for past as well as current employment.|
Employment Relations Minister Gerry Sutcliffe welcomed the new law, which will give minimum wage enforcement officers the power to ensure minimum wage arrears are paid after workers are no longer working for the employer in question.
Mr Sutcliffe said: "The Government is determined to make sure that all workers, including those who have left for new jobs, are paid what they are owed.
"This new legislation restores the position following an adverse tribunal ruling last year, and will ensure that the Inland Revenue can again take enforcement action in all complaint cases for former workers.
"The national minimum wage is one of the Government's finest achievements, but we are not complacent when it comes to enforcing the rules and, where necessary, we will tighten them up.”
He urged anyone not being paid the minimum wage, currently £4.20 (full) and £3.60 (development), to call the minimum wage helpline on 0845 6000 678.
The Government has also plans to increases in the minimum wage rates.
The adult rate of the minimum wage will be increased from £4.20 to £4.50 and the development rate for those aged 18-21 will be increased from £3.60 to £3.80. Between 1.3 and 1.6 million low- paid workers will stand to benefit from these increases.
The legislation change was deemed necessary following an Employment Appeals Tribunal decision in August 2002.
In the case of Bebb Travel v Inland Revenue, the tribunal ruled that the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 meant that minimum wage enforcement officers were not entitled to issue enforcement notices claiming minimum wage arrears on behalf of former workers.
In order to restore the situation the Government brought forward the National Minimum Wage (Enforcement Notices) Bill 2003 as a priority. This Bill, which came into effect on 8 July 2003, restores the right of enforcement officers to issue notices on behalf of former workers.
The Bill will also allow the Inland Revenue to take action in respect of cases involving former workers that have arisen in the past and a review of all of such cases that have arisen since last August is currently underway.
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