The Government has acted on a recommendation made in the Low Pay Commission’s 2009 report that information on employers who have shown a wilful disregard for the National Minimum Wage (NMW) laws should be made available to the public.
From 1 January 2011, this information will be published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). It is hoped that the risk of damage to an employer’s reputation will act as a powerful incentive not to breach the law. The new sanction was announced when the new NMW rates came into effect on 1 October 2010.
In addition, the NMW Annual Report for 2009/2010, published by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and BIS, reveals that HMRC identified over £4.4 million in arrears for over 19,000 workers during the year. The average amount of arrears per worker was £228, which is 18 per cent higher than in 2008/2009 (£193).
On 1 October 2010, new measures aimed at cracking down on rogue operators in the modelling and entertainment sector came into force. These were introduced under the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2010 and ban outright the practice of collecting up-front fees from aspiring models. The absolute ban will not extend to the placement of other entertainers, such as actors, musicians and extras, as the risk of abuse is significantly lower in these sectors and a ban would have a disproportionate effect on perfectly legitimate businesses. However, the amendments will extend the current seven-day cooling off period to 30 days for this group, which will also benefit from increased rights on cancellations and refunds over the period.
As well as measures relating to up-front fees, the Regulations make changes to the rules governing job advertisements and reduce the overall administrative burden on employment agencies and businesses by eliminating unnecessary suitability checks when workers are placed in permanent posts – other than for those who will be working with vulnerable people.
The NMW rates that apply from 1 October 2010 are as follows:
£5.93 per hour for workers aged 21 and over, increased from £5.80 and with the adult rate coming into effect at 21 rather than the previous 22;
£4.92 per hour for 18-20 year olds, increased from £4.83; and
£3.64 per hour for 16-17 year olds, increased from £3.57.