The union made recommendations in a report published yesterday on its website. Responding to this, Noele McClelland, Partner in the Employment Team at Thorntons, said:
"It is clear that some businesses are still refusing to adhere to the law surrounding minimum wage, despite recent Government efforts to tighten up the rules enforcing it.
"A reform in these enforcements must be carried out to ensure that UK workers are receiving their full rights to a national minimum wage and to establish a level playing field for all employers.
"Although preventative measures are already in place to deter businesses from malpractice, including naming and shaming, and these were tightened up by the Government the number of employers named and shamed remains extremely low.
"Whilst naming and shaming could be an effective deterrent, particularly in the case of a high profile employer being reprimanded for not adhering to the law, it will only work if it actually happens.
"Although it's unlikely that fines for not paying will be increased to £75,000, there still does need to be a significant improvement in the enforcement regime, as current fines of £5,000 and naming and shaming don't seem to have made a huge impact.
"Many issues will have also gone undetected, as vulnerable employees such as immigrant workers, young people and those on zero hours contracts may be hesitant to raise any issues for fear of losing their job as well as the cost of raising tribunal proceedings, given the tribunal fees of lodging a claim which can cost £160, with a further hearing fee of £230.
"Businesses that do not administer the national minimum wage are not only exploitative of their workers and undermining the law, but they are also taking an unfair advantage of other businesses that adhere to the rules. Actions must be taken to strengthen the enforcement of the law to ensure that all employees can exercise their right to minimum wage."
Noele McClelland is a Partner and specialist in Employment Law. If you need any advice on dealing with employee issues please contact Noele on 01382 229111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org