Plaid leader’s get tough plea as more Welsh workers fail to receive the Minimum Wage
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood says the time for a softly softly approach to employers flouting the National Minimum Wage (NMW) is long gone.
The South Wales Central AM said prosecutions were needed against rogue employers as it was revealed that more workers in Wales were not paid the NMW during 2013-14 – and under-payments to employees also went up.
The HMRC, which has just announced another round of job losses, said that the Swansea SA post code area saw the greatest number of identified under-payments – up from fewer than five people in 2012-13 to 375 in the last financial year.
In response to a question under the Freedom of Information Act, the HMRC said that the number of employees charged with enforcing the NMW and based in Wales was now six – down from eight in 2012-13.
Leanne Wood said: "The UK Employment Relations Minister announced last year that employers who broke the law would be named and shamed. But the reality is that for another year not a single employer was prosecuted.
"This law came into operation more than 15 years ago and there is no excuse for any employer to be unaware of what is required. There are people who are deliberately flouting the law.
"It is tough enough for people to make ends meet without being exploited. The figures we have obtained are the tip of the iceberg in my view. When people are struggling to pay higher energy and food bills, it is wrong that workers are being exploited.
"Plaid Cymru has argued that we need to move on from the minimum wage to a living wage. This would deliver a pay rise to more than 250,000 Welsh workers, and would be an important step towards making Wales a high-value, high-quality business location."
The details obtained following a Freedom of Information request to HMRC show that the bulk of more than 400 under-paid workers identified were in the Swansea post code area. This is up from 293 across Wales in 2012-13. Total arrears identified for workers in Wales came to £112,320 – up from £97,226 in the previous financial year.
The number of employees not complying with the law was highest in the Cardiff CF post code area at 11 with nine in the Swansea SA area.