Rise in number of firms not paying minimum wage

'It is absolutely right to ban these unnecessary and unfair charges'. Picture: PA

'It is absolutely right to ban these unnecessary and unfair charges'. Picture: PA

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THE number of companies failing to pay the minimum wage in Scotland increased by 15 per cent last year, despite a drop in the United Kingdom as a whole, new figures have revealed.

In 2012-13, some 83 companies in Scotland were found to be not paying the minimum wage to staff compared to 73 in 2011-12, according to a written parliamentary answer.

Overall in the UK, the figure dropped from 968 in 2011-12 to 736 in 2012-13.

The coalition government is currently overhauling the welfare system in an effort to “make work pay”. But there are concerns that this will not be happen if companies fail to pay the minimum wage, which currently stands at £6.19 an hour.

The increase in Scotland comes after the Westminster government cut funding by 10 per cent for the HM Revenue & Customs unit in Scotland responsible for investigating minimum wage breaches.

Airdrie and Shotts Labour MP Pamela Nash said she is concerned that the cuts might mean that many companies are getting away with not paying staff enough.

She said: “This is truly disgraceful; the government weakened the monitors enforcing the minimum wage laws in Scotland, and now we are seeing a jump in the number of rogue employers who are ignoring the law.

“We all know that the Tories are not happy with the national minimum wage and will try to weaken it anyway they can. For example, only in the past week the coalition government decided to abolish protection for rural workers.

“Labour introduced the national minimum wage to protect the lowest paid, but this Tory-led government needs to do more to enforce the minimum wage instead of undermining it.”

She added: “The cost of living is rising and wages are falling, it’s during times like this that the national minimum wage has to be protected, and when the government must be on guard to make sure it’s 
kept to.

“Government ministers need to get tough on rogue employers who break the law; and these figures should be setting off alarm bells at the Treasury.”

The most recent figures are, however, a long way behind the number of companies caught out in 2009-10 when there were 145 cases of non-compliance in Scotland and 1,256 in the whole of the UK.

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