£5 security fob deposit pushes Norwich firm into government’s ‘name and shame’ list of employers failing to pay minimum wage

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- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2008

A £5 deduction for a security key fob has pushed a Norwich firm onto the government's 'name and shame' list of national minimum wage offenders.

Quattro Recruitment Ltd featured on a list of 90 firms which had failed to pay employees the minimum wage.

The other companies were in sectors including hairdressing, social care, hospitality and security, with most of the total, £1.7m, owed by Total Security Services of London.

Quattro Recruitment in Norwich failed to pay £2,239 to 431 employees, and DMR Electrical (Norfolk and Suffolk) in Halesworth failed to pay £117.68 to one employee.

But Quattro Recruitment said it was due to a £5 deposit for a security key fob charged to 431 workers who were paid the national minimum wage and was disappointed in the 'blanket approach' used by the government.

The firm said while many of the deposits were refunded to those who gave back the key fobs, the pay period when the deduction was made was deemed to bring the average hourly pay rate below the national minimum wage and therefore breach the legislation in place.

The representative for the firm said: 'Once brought to their attention Quattro Recruitment Ltd immediately refunded the 431 workers their deposits, regardless of the fact that they may have already refunded them at the initial point of return, and put the new process in place.

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'Quattro Recruitment Ltd pride themselves on ensuring that its workforce is treated fairly and ethically and is disappointed that HMRC feel the need to highlight the above in such a manner that it leads readers of the articles to believe they have knowingly paid salary amounts below the national minimum wage level.'

Managing director Richard Morrissey said: 'This is the first and only time Quattro Recruitment Ltd has been in any way linked to non-compliance and it remains a huge disappointment.

'While we support the exercise of naming and shaming deliberate NMW breaches, we feel that the HMRC NMW inspectors should be consulted by BIS as to whether the inspected company should be highlighted as a 'shamed' business.

'If the inspector on our case had been consulted and given an option then she would 100pc have recommended not to place us on this list. It is disappointing that BIS feel the need to utilise a blanket approach given all of the many initiatives we work to.'

Almost 500 firms have now been publicly named by the government, with total arrears of more than £3m and total penalties of £1.1m.

Commenting on the general list, Business Minister Nick Boles said: 'There is no excuse for not paying staff the wages they're entitled to.

'Our policy of naming and shaming employers who ignore the law means there are consequences for their reputation as well as their wallets.

'In April we will introduce a new National Living Wage which will mean a pay rise of over £900 a year for someone working full time on the minimum wage and we will enforce this equally robustly.'

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: 'Ministers are right to name and shame these companies. Today'slist contains many well-known household names and the level of underpayment in some cases is truly eye-watering.

'Now is not the time for complacency, however. We know that thousands more rogue employers are cheating their staff and getting away with it. It is essential that HMRC catches up with them too.

'Bosses who try to duck the minimum wage must have nowhere to hide. Strong unions are needed in every workplace to stop these abuses from happening.'

Tim Roache, GMB general secretary elect, said: 'If unions were allowed to make complaints and if local councils had powers to investigate them, far more employers would join the list of those named and shamed. Abusing the apprentice rate of £3.30 per hour by using fake training schemes could be rooted out.'

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