UPDATE: Stoke College named and shamed by Government Minister for not paying staff minimum wage

Stoke College
Stoke College

School says failure to pay staff the minimum wage was a “genuine oversight” which has been rectified.

More than 100 employers who have failed to pay their workers the National Minimum Wage have been named and shamed, Business Minister Nick Boles announced yesterday.

And Stoke College Educational Trust Ltd, trading as Stoke College, in Stoke-by-Clare between Haverhill and Sudbury has made it into the top 10 offenders.

The company neglected to pay £12,094.83 to seven workers

Headmaster Frank Thompson described the failure to pay the correct wages as a historic issue that had been dealt with immediately.

A statement from the school read: “In 2014 Stoke College became aware that a number of former employees had not received the annual minimum wage. This arose because they had been paid a set weekly wage rather than an hourly wage and had worked more hours than anticipated.

“In agreement with HMRC this error was corrected immediately. Changes were made to the payroll and we continue to evolve our systems to ensure that the same issue cannot arise again. 

“All these former employees were boarding assistants. Most independent schools with boarding have students from overseas who spend a ‘gap’ year between school and university assisting staff. They are provided with an income, board and lodging for 12 months.

“On October 22, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills stated that seven employees of Stoke College had not received the minimum wage.

“All seven employees had been boarding assistants who had worked at the College for 12 months each between 2011 and 2014.

“This was a genuine oversight which was acknowledged by the College at the time. Once aware of the situation, the College contacted each of the students affected and sent them the appropriate payments to correct the shortfall.

“We continue to employ boarding assistants annually. We introduce them to a number of business processes in our organisation, providing them with a highly prized experience of working life and British culture before they begin their university studies. 

“They perform an essential role in the life of the College, bringing energy to the boarding environment. We are therefore pleased to recognise the value of the work they do and we actively work to ensure the welfare of these young adults.”

Between them, the 115 companies named owed workers over £389,000 in arrears, and span sectors including hairdressing, retail, education, catering and social care.

Since the scheme was introduced in October 2013, to 400 employers have been named and shamed, with total arrears of over £1,181,000 and total penalties of over £513,000.

Business Minister Nick Boles said: “Employers that fail to pay the minimum wage hurt the living standards of the lowest paid and their families.

“As a one nation government on the side of working people we are determined that everyone who is entitled to the National Minimum Wage receives it.

“Next April we will introduce a new National Living Wage which will mean a £900-a-year pay rise for someone working full time on the minimum wage and we will enforce this equally robustly.”

On 1 October 2015, the National Minimum Wage (NMW) rose to £6.70. Employers should be aware of the different rates for the National Minimum Wage depending on the circumstances of their workers.

To improve compliance in the hairdressing sector HMRC has launched a NMW campaign to drive voluntary behavioural change. The campaign is an opportunity for employers to check they are paying their employees correctly and ensure any outstanding arrears are paid back to employees.

The 115 cases named today were thoroughly investigated by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

The naming and shaming scheme was revised in October 2013 to make it simpler to name and shame employers that do not comply with minimum wage rules.

Businesses or employees that have any questions about the National Minimum wage can contact Acas online by visiting http://www.acas.org.uk/nmw.

The current National Minimum Wage rates are:

* Adult rate (21 and over) - £6.70 per hour

* 18 to 20-year olds - £5.30 per hour

* 16 to 17-year olds - £3.87 per hour

* Apprentice rate - £3.30 per hour