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Paying a fair wage brings benefits to all

11 October 2007
Paying a fair wage brings benefits to all

Some hospitality operators have complained about the latest rise in the national minimum wage, but it's all about protection for the lowest paid, insists Employment Minister Pat McFadden

The minimum wage was introduced in 1997 to establish fairness in the workplace, and research shows most good employers have been paying it.

However, the hospitality, retail, care homes, security, hairdressing and childcare industries have all been identified as lower-paying sectors and in need of guidance on their legal requirements. That's why we introduced an approach called "targeted minimum wage enforcement".

The next sector for targeted enforcement will be the hotel sector, followed by the wider hospitality sector next year.

HM Revenue & Customs enforcement teams have found that one in three hospitality workplaces they've visited have been paying less than the minimum wage. We want to ensure the industry can improve quality and give customers increased confidence that the sector has sound employment practices. I know uncertainty about the minimum wage contributes to the problem: that's why we're focusing on education and helping employers get their house in order to meet their obligations. We will take tougher measures, such as fines and prosecutions, only where necessary.

My officials have spoken with bodies such as the British Hospitality Association to establish any difficult areas the national minimum wage may pose. This has allowed us to create clear, concise guidance. I believe this will enable us to address any concerns employees or employers may have.

Everyone is entitled to a fair wage for their hard-earned skills, and it's not acceptable that a small minority of businesses can undermine the reputation of the entire industry.

Despite predictions to the contrary, paying the national minimum wage hasn't affected the job prospects of low-paid workers, and businesses benefit from a more productive workforce. For details on The National Minimum Wage and the Hotel Sector - A Guide for Employers, go to www.berr.gov.uk. Leaflets are also being sent directly to employers.

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