UKHospitality calls for ‘sector-specific guidance’ after revamp of name and shame scheme

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

UKHospitality calls for ‘sector-specific guidance’ after revamp of government's National Minimum Wage name and shame scheme

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Trade body UKHospitality has called for ‘sector-specific guidance’ after the government announced is to resume naming and shaming businesses failing to pay staff the National Minimum Wage (NMW).

Following a recent review, the scheme will restart in April with naming rounds expected to occur more frequently in a bid to ‘enhance the effectiveness of the measure as a deterrent’.

As part of the revamp, the government will introduce a more ‘proportionate’ approach, increasing the threshold at which firms are called out from £100 of wages owed, to £500.

As such, businesses falling foul of the rules by minimal sums will not be named, provided they correct any errors. 

Those found to be underpaying staff by less than £100 will have the chance to rectify their mistakes without being named, however, they will still have to pay back workers and could face fines of up to 200% of the arrears.

“Anyone who is entitled to the minimum wage should receive it – no ifs, no buts – and we’re cracking down on companies that underpay their workers,” says Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst.

“We also want to make it as easy as possible for employers, especially small businesses and those trying to do right by their staff, to comply with the NMW rules, which is why we’re reforming regulations.” 

UKHospitality says it welcomes the return of the scheme, but adds that sector-specific guidance to help employers understand their obligations and prepare for any changes would be beneficial.

“We believe more needs to be done to totally rule out administrative errors,” says UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.

“Some businesses have been caught out by admin errors in the past, rather than through deliberate underpayment. We have made this point clear to the government previously and highlighted the potential for employers to make honest mistakes on issues like accommodation offset or staff uniforms. The focus should be on tackling those businesses who knowingly underpay.

“Sector-specific guidance which incorporates the various nuances and needs of vastly different businesses would help clear up any misunderstanding and help employers understand their obligations and prepare for the changes.” 

In March 2018, the government called out a total of 179 employers, which included restaurant chains Wagamama and TGI Fridays, for underpaying staff.

The scheme was subsequently halted in July 2018 to allow for a review into its effectiveness. 

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