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East Anglian firms named and shamed in government underpayment list

PUBLISHED: 11:01 16 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:15 17 February 2017

Wages are rising slower than inflation, Office for National Statistics figures show. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Wages are rising slower than inflation, Office for National Statistics figures show. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Businesses have been warned to keep on top of their paperwork to avoid being named and shamed by the government as an example to others.

A number of East Anglian firms were among those named by the government for failing to pay the National Minimum Wage including a hairdresser, forklift maker and a vehicle repair workshop.

Among the 360 companies named nationally were fabrication firm Lakenheath Fab, manufacturer Nexen Lift Trucks in Lowestoft, farming business T. Long & Co in Wymondham, Brampton Hall Farm near Norwich, K L Engine Centre in King’s Lynn and Cut to the Chase Hair Design in Norwich.

See the full list here.

Some of the firms cited misunderstandings around apprenticeship legislation and pay, contractual errors and incorrectly filled-out paperwork.

The National Minimum Wage is currently £7.20 for workers over 25 and will rise to £7.50 in April.

Mark Kermez, partner and solicitor at law firm Clapham and Collinge, said it was vital for businesses to stay abreast of developments to make 
sure they were paying the correct amount.

He said: “It is important that all employers are aware of any changes and are able to increase their wages as necessary when the implementation happens.

“It is essential for payroll staff to ensure they are kept up to date with this.”

MORE: Minimum wage name and shame: The full government list

While many of those highlighted were small and medium sized businesses, national giants also made the list with department store Debenhams, which was accused of failing to pay almost £135,000 to 
just under 12,000 workers, topping 
it.

The retail and hospitality sectors account for a large number of the businesses listed with 51 and 84 respectively.

Liz Stevens, professional support lawyer at Birketts, said: “Enforcement of the national minimum wage has been considerably strengthened in recent years, with the government committing greater resources to HMRC for enforcement and substantially increasing fines for employers who flout the law.

“Some employers may not realise that in addition to substantial civil penalties, a failure to pay the national minimum wage can result in a criminal prosecution and disqualification from being a company director.”

MORE: How to avoid being named and shamed.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This list fails to shame the larger care firms who are equally guilty of denying staff a fair wage. Those in the spotlight today are just the tip of the iceberg.

“HM Revenue & Customs needs to get much tougher with more inspections to identify scrooge employers.”

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “The Government needs to crack down further on employers who failed to pay the national minimum wage to some of the most low-paid and vulnerable workers in the country.

“The fact that the Government has mounted only 13 prosecutions for non-compliance since 2007 is pathetic.

“In America, bad bosses are jailed and heavily fined for ‘wage theft’ which is what this is, exploiting workers in such a shameful fashion.”

In August 2016 the government released its previous list which named around 200 companies.

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