To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent steps his Department has taken to increase the rate of compliance by employers with national minimum wage legislation.
Ensuring workers and employers are aware of their rights and responsibilities is key to ensuring workers get the minimum wage due to them. In his pre-Budget report 2006, the Chancellor announced an additional £2.9 million for monitoring and enforcing the minimum wage each year for the next four years. We carried out an extensive awareness campaign this year, including radio, posters and online activity as well as an outreach bus. The focus of our campaigns to raise awareness of national minimum wage and the current rates and ensure workers and employers know where to go for advice or to make a complaint.
We are also taking steps to strengthen the national minimum wage enforcement regime in a Bill which is currently in the House of Lords. Subject to parliamentary approval, the changes proposed in this Bill will provide a clear deterrent to non-compliance: there is a new automatic penalty for employers who fail to pay their workers the national minimum wage and in addition, where workers have been underpaid, employers will have to reimburse them at current, rather than historic rates. The Bill also gives HMRC compliance officers new inspection powers and strengthens the criminal regime that applies where an employer has committed an offence.