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Mandelson urges workers to know their wage rights

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18 Nov 2008

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson will launch a new campaign today to help boost workers' awareness of the increased national minimum wage, as tough new penalties for employers who underpay their staff were passed by Parliament.

The "It's Your Call" roadshow will be launched in Downing Street before touring the UK over a three month period, stopping off at 28 towns and cities, giving workers advice on their entitlements and how to make a complaint if they have been underpaid.

Royal Assent for the Employment Act has paved the way for new penalties to come into force in April, as part of government's crackdown on those who try to exploit workers.

Lord Mandelson said:

"The minimum wage was introduced when I was Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 10 years ago and I am so proud to see the difference it has made to the lives of millions of hard working people across the UK.

"More than one million workers benefited from its increase last month and it's important that we make sure everyone knows what they're entitled to, that's what this campaign is all about.

"Of course, most businesses treat staff fairly, but the small number who cheat their workers are flouting the law and undercutting honest competitors.

"Our changes will make sure everyone caught not paying their workers properly faces a stiff penalty - we are determined to ensure workers are paid fairly."

The changes introduce unlimited fines for non-compliance for the most serious cases, removing the maximum limit of 5,000.

The roadshows will have facilities to report cases of abuse, while fully trained staff will be on the spot to give expert face-to-face advice.

Visitors to the events will also hear local people tell their stories of underpayment and the help they received tackling wage abuse.

More than one million people across the UK benefit from annual rises in the National Minimum Wage. On October 1st, rates rose to 5.73 for workers aged 22 and over; 4.77 for 18-21 year olds and 3.53 for those aged 16 and 17.

Anyone worried they may not be getting the National Minimum Wage can call the NMW helpline on 0845 6000 678 (or 0845 6500 207 from Northern Ireland). Support is offered in more than 100 languages and callers can remain anonymous if they wish.

Notes

1. Secretary of State for Business Peter Mandelson and Employment Relations Minister Pat McFadden will launch the "It's Your Call" campaign in Downing Street at 8.30am on Tuesday 18th November.

2. The campaign's visits to city centre sites will include:

* Cardiff, Bristol, Swansea, Edinburgh and Glasgow in November
* Leeds, Huddersfield and Sheffield in December
* Peterborough, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham and Newcastle in January
* Plymouth, Portsmouth and London in February

3. The Employment Act has now gained Royal Assent. Its measures, which are due to come into force in April 2009, include:

* Removal of the limit on maximum fines for underpayment of the national minimum wage, currently 5,000.
* The most serious cases of non-compliance will be tried at Crown Court, which can impose an effectively unlimited penalty
* Introducing a fairer way of dealing with national minimum wage arrears, calculated so workers do not lose out.


About the Author

Crown Copyright. Material taken from the BERR- Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform replacing DTI - Department for Trade and Industry. Reproduced under the terms and conditions of the Click-Use Licence.


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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-11-18 10:51:05 in Business Articles

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