So, Vince Cable has (sort of) stuck to his word. Back in January, he told MPs that he expected to see “a significant number” of employers, found by HMRC to have flouted the National Minimum Wage, to be ‘named & shamed’ under the new BIS scheme “by the end of February”. The new scheme came into being on 1 October last year, replacing a previous scheme, introduced in January 2011, under which only one employer was ever named & shamed.
And so, on the very last day of February, BIS has just issued a press release in which it names five offending employers:
- Peter Oakes of Peter Oakes Ltd, Macclesfield, neglected to pay £3619.70 to 2 workers
- Lisa Maria Cathcart of Salon Sienna, Manchester, neglected to pay £1760.48 to a worker
- Mohammed Yamin of Minto Guest House, Edinburgh, neglected to pay £808.56 to a worker
- Anne Henderson of Chambers Hairdressers, Middlesbrough neglected to pay £452.22 to a worker
- Ruzi Ruzyyev a car wash operator in Carmarthen neglected to pay £225.38 to a worker
However, as the TUC was quick to point out, all five are “small businesses who’ve underpaid [just one or two] members of staff. There are companies out there who are cheating hundreds of staff out of a legal minimum wage. These are the biggest offenders and their pay crimes must be made public too.”
Moreover, I’m not sure I’ll find any dictionary that defines ‘five’ as ‘a significant number’. HMRC imposed penalties for flouting the NMW on just over 700 employers in 2012-13, and over 900 employers in both 2011-12 and 2010-11. So it seems reasonable to conclude that HMRC has imposed such penalties on some 250-400 employers since the new ‘naming & shaming’ scheme came into force on 1 October last year (and yes, I have asked for the actual number, by means of a FoI request, but HMRC has declined to answer). Even allowing for the appeal process, which Cable said in January takes “roughly 150 days” – though quite why it should take that long in all cases isn’t at all clear – we might have expected a first tranche of at least 60 employers to have been named & shamed by now.
So, why have only five (small) employers been named & shamed to date? And will a significant number of employers be named & shamed in the coming weeks and months?
Time will tell. But, credit where credit’s due, at least BIS has made a start. Let’s hope those press releases keep coming.