25/09/2003

Inland Revenue recovers £3.5m in unpaid wages

New figures published today show that over £3.5 million in unpaid wages from employers flouting the minimum wage was uncovered last year.

The Inland Revenue carried out more than 6,000 investigations last year - an increase of more than 500 on the previous year. It brings the total to almost £13 million since the minimum wage was introduced in 1999.

The DTI has started a five-week publicity campaign to publicise the rise in the adult rate to £4.50 an hour and £3.80 for the youth rate. These new rises come into force on October 1. For the first time the campaign will include targeted advertising through recruitment websites.

Employment Minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, said: "There is no room for complacency when it comes to enforcing the minimum wage but these latest figures show that we are winning the war against rogue employers.

There were 53,000 calls to the minimum wage helpline last year - leading to 1,996 complaints. The greatest number of complaints were in retail, hospitality and markets. Since 1 April 1999, the helpline has responded to more than 333,000 enquiries and handled more than 10,000 complaints.

The Northern Ireland National Minimum Wage Helpline (0845 650 0207) has received more than 3000 calls with over 140 worker complaints referred to the regional compliance team for investigation. The Helpline is operated in partnership with the Northern Ireland Citizens Advice Bureaux.

A Scottish National Minimum Wage Helpline (0845 600 1768) was launched in February 2003. The Scottish Low Pay Unit operates this Helpline, in partnership with Inland Revenue, DTI and Citizens Advice Scotland.

Anyone who thinks they are not being paid the minimum wage should call the helpline on 0845 6000 678 or use the interactive website - www.tiger.gov.uk - which provides guidance for both employees and employers.

(gmcg)

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