Crackdown launched on rogue Hackney employers ignoring national minimum wage law

A crackdown has been launched against rogue employers in Hackney who are not paying their employees at least the national minimum wage.

Hackney Council has joined forces with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to visit businesses as part of a pilot scheme to discover ways to reach out to employees who don’t speak English or have literacy needs, and may not be aware of their legal rights.

The move came about after Hackney’s elected Mayor Jules Pipe wrote to Business Secretary Vince Cable last September, asking him to give councils more power to deal with rogue bosses who are breaking the law by not paying their staff at least the legal minimum, which is set at £6.31 an hour for over 21s.

HMRC has formal legal powers to take action against businesses which aren’t paying the national minimum wage, and can take steps to fine and ensure arrears are paid out in full by any employer found flouting the rules.

In the most serious cases, criminal prosecution can follow.

Mayor Pipe said: “We know the vast majority of employers in the borough are good employers paying their employees at least the national minimum wage, but we will not tolerate the small number continuing to flout the law.

“We have said that the council is also committed to making Hackney a fair pay borough, where no one does a hard day’s work for less than they can reasonably live on.”

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In the joint operation council teams will also look out for businesses which are not complying with other regulations like health and safety, trading standards, food hygiene regulations or licensing laws or conditions, and the Home Office’s immigration enforcement team will also check compliance with immigration rules.

David Seymour-Smith, head of the North London Home Office immigration enforcement team, said: “The use of illegal labour exploits vulnerable people, undermines honest businesses and cheats legitimate job seekers out of employment opportunities.

“Working with partners like Hackney Council and HMRC we are determined to tackle businesses which continue to flout the rules.”

Last year the council began a campaign to make employees aware of the national minimum wage, and the council is itself a London Living Wage (LLW) employer – paying each employee at least £8.80 per hour - and could be the first local authority in London to become fully LLW compliant next year for contracted services.

Anyone who believes they are not being paid the national minimum wage can call the pay and work rights helpline on 0800 917 2368.”