Government fails to disclose identities of hundreds of companies who fail to pay minimum wage

The Government has repeatedly promised to 'name and shame' rogue employers

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Indy Politics

The Government has still not disclosed the identities of hundreds of companies which have broken the law by not paying the national minimum wage, despite repeatedly promising to “name and shame” rogue employers.

Critics claimed the failure proved the scheme, which has been heavily promoted by ministers, had become a “damp squib”.

It is three months since a list of firms which failed to pay the minimum wage was published, provoking accusations from MPs and unions that ministers are sitting on a growing backlog of cases.

Since tougher rules on non-payment of the wage were introduced in 2013, HM Revenue and Customs has investigated 1,004 complaints against employers.

So far, 398 firms have been named for under-paying staff. Another 165 have not been identified because their total arrears to employees were less than £100, while 27 have successfully argued they have not broken the law. 

The backlog of cases has now reached 414, according to a written Commons answer to the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.

Last night the party wrote to the Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, demanding urgent action to ensure non-payers were publicised.

Natalie Bennett, its leader, called for an online register of firms which fail to pay the minimum wage, which is currently £6.70 an hour for workers aged 21 and over, £5.30 for 18 to 20 year olds, and £3.87 for under-18s. 

She said: “The Government is, by its inaction, protecting law-breaking employers from public scrutiny.” 

The Department for Business said its priority was to ensure that any wage arrears owed to workers were paid before it publicly named employers. 

A spokesman said there was a time-lag between issuing a Notice of Underpayment to companies and naming them, as employers had two chances to appeal before they suffered the reputational damage of being publicly identified. 

He added: “We are currently considering the next batch of cases and expect to name more employers shortly.”