Image: ShutterstockPersonally, I love a bit of history. I live and work in one of the world’s most historic cities and marvel, for example, at its unbelievable architecture from the last few centuries every time I drive around London. That of course, doesn’t mean that I want to return to the Victorian or Edwardian eras when it comes to how we treat workers. Unfortunately, some appear to be more at home in Ebenezer Scrooge’s candle-lit, freezing-cold office than a 21st century workplace. I nearly chocked on my bacon sarnie the other morning when I heard that almost 200 businesses had been caught by HMRC for not paying the minimum wage. And let’s be clear about this, I’m not even talking about the £7.20 Living Wage, but the actual minimum wage, an hourly-rate that has been in place since 1999. Nearly 700 firms have been caught bang to rights for not paying the minimum wage since the posse made up of the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, as was, and HMRC started to round each up in 2013. And just like cattle on the open range, these businesses have been branded by having names and how much is owed plastered across the media. The newly-formed Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s “list of shame” is the largest ever published and contains 197 firms from all walks of business. And, to be fair, it’s not the case of it being the “usual suspects” businesses expected to exploit staff – it truly is a mixture of the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. From civil engineering firms and hairdressers, to takeaways and children’s nurseries, the shame of not paying staff the minimum, let along what they’re worth, isn’t restricted to a handful of sectors or even geographic regions. There’s even, I’m sad to say, a couple of plumbing firms in there, which boils my blood as you’d imagine. Between them, all of these employers owed nearly half a million quid in arrears, which each have to pay directly to the employees affected.
Read more from Charlie Mullins:
- SME public sector contracts are too few and mired in red tape
- Entrepreneurs shouldn’t let risk out of their control define them
- We’re declaring war on antiquated prejudices holding back women
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