Last week saw publication of the latest list of companies to be “named and shamed” for not paying staff the national minimum wage, or national living wage (for over 25s). Included in the list were High Street names such as Debenhams and Peacocks. And within days of its publication, we discovered that Argos would be on the next list, having failed to pay over £2.4 million to 37,000 current and former employees. 
If such big names can get it wrong, what hope is there for smaller organisations? 
You may be thinking that you have nothing to worry about, as you are confident that you are paying the appropriate minimum rates for your employees. 
But if you expect your staff to do any of the following, you may well find you are actually paying below minimum wage: 
• Be at work 10-15 minutes before their shift begins, so that they can be ready to start work on time. 
• Work through part, or all, of their breaks to get the job done. 
• Stay on duty until customers leave the premises, which might be after their official paid working hours end. 
• Clean up after their shift ends. 
• Go through security checks after their shift ends. 
• Attend briefings before, or after, their paid working hours begin or end. 
• Travel between sites or clients as part of their working day. 
• Have monies deducted from their wages for uniforms, breakages or because the cash till was short at the end of their shift. 
In short, if you are paying national minimum wage (or living wage) rates to your staff, you need to be sure you are paying them for anything that could constitute working time. Cleaning up, locking up, security checks and attending briefings or work-related events are all working time, and need to be paid for. 
Some employers were named and shamed because they had failed to increase hourly rates when employees moved into a new age category. So make sure your pay records are up to date, and the person responsible for payroll is checking dates of birth regularly. 
Another way of ensuring you don’t fall foul of the minimum wage rates may be to have a minimum hourly rate for your staff that exceeds the statutory minimum, so that even with additional time worked above, the hourly rate does not fall below the statutory levels. This is the approach that Sainsbury, the new owner of Argos, are reportedly taking. 
And just as a reminder, statutory minimum hourly rates for all groups will increase in April 2017 as follows: 
25 and over increases from £7.20 to £7.50 
21 – 24 increases from £6.95 to £7.05 
18-20 increases from £5.55 to £5.60 
Under 18 increases from £4.00 to £4.05 
Apprentice increases from £3.40 to £3.50 
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