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25% of borough's businesses paying less than minimum wage

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25% of borough's businesses paying less than minimum wage

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Communities, Finance, Legal

Hackney Hackney

A crackdown in a London borough found that a quarter of businesses in the area were paying some of their staff less than the minimum wage.

A total of 13 employees at the businesses were found to be losing out on up to £3,800 a year during the recent inspections.

The spot checks were part of joint operation between Hackney Council and HMRC to identify businesses that are not paying at least the national minimum wage.

So far 40 businesses have been inspected, with more visits planned.

This week four teams visited 21 takeaway food outlets across Hackney and found four businesses paying five people less than the national minimum wage, costing the employees around £2,800.

In addition, none of the premises visited were VAT registered and officers found irregularities regarding income tax, with one business never declaring income tax despite trading for over 10 years.

More than half of the businesses had no records of the businesses sales or takings and HMRC will continue to investigate around 14 businesses.

During an earlier operation this month, eight teams visited 19 phone shops. HMRC officers identified six premises who were failing to pay eight staff members the national minimum wage.

In addition, of the 16 premises visited, officers found nine irregularities regarding VAT, four regarding income tax self-assessment and 13 regarding PAYE.

Council trading standards officers also found a number of issues including 12 businesses failing to display their company name; nine with pricing issues; seven making restrictive statements around no refunds or exchanges; eight had Trade Mark issues; and premises had no valid street trading licence.

One business had no toilets for staff and two had no water provision.

Six businesses had electrical safety issues, including dangerous electrical chargers. A further 11 didn’t have electrical certificates. All the businesses were advised on what they needed to deal with any issues.

The council will be following up with additional visits to ensure that this advice has been acted on.

Mayor Pipe said: “Through joint operations like this we are catching those employers continuing to flout the law by not paying their employees at least the national minimum wage. The Council also remains committed to making Hackney a fair pay borough, where nobody is expected to do a hard day’s work for less than they can reasonably live on.

"Hackney Council already pays all its directly employed staff the London living wage and our new contract for care workers will complete the process of securing at least a London Living Wage for all of the council’s contracted staff."

Michelle Wyer, assistant director of HMRC’s national minimum wage team, said: “Paying the national minimum wage is not optional - it’s the law. It is unacceptable for employers to cheat staff and HMRC are pleased to work with Hackney Council to ensure the rules are being followed and take action where they are not.

"Last year over 26,000 underpaid employees got back a share of over £4 million as a result of HMRCs actions."

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