Manchester tool firm demand government apology after ‘wrongly named and shamed’ over minimum wage failure

A Manchester-based tool hire company is demanding a government apology and is seeking legal advice after it was ‘named and shamed’ over minimum wage failures.

HSS Hire Service Group in Manchester has contacted business minister Jenny Willott after it was identified in a government press release as failing to have paid £149 to 15 workers.

HSS Hire chief executive Chris Davies explained that in October 2013, due to an administrative error, the pay of staff wasn’t updated to take into account changes made to the minimum wage.

He said: “The minimum wage is one of the most important workplace rights.

“It is a fundamental that we value, respect and adhere to and we are outraged at the accusation that we have not complied with this legislation.

“We have contacted the government minister responsible, Jenny Willott, MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs, to request a robust apology.

The underpayment ranged from 47p to £25 depending on the salary of the employee and once the error was noticed the underpayments were rectified within a month.

Mr Davies said that HMRC were notified once the error was detected and they received correspondence stating they were satisfied with the response.

He added: “We feel strongly that the action of ‘naming and shaming’ for a genuine administrative error that was quickly and proactively notified and rectified is disproportionate and unfair.

“Having sought legal advice, we also believe that HMRC has not followed its own process.”

HSS Group employs more than 2,800 colleagues across the UK and Ireland – 20 of these are paid the minimum wage.

All colleagues are provided with life assurance, health care benefits and pension contributions.

Mr Davies said: “It is ludicrous that HSS should have been listed alongside companies which have allegedly contravened employment law.

“We consider this to be deeply damaging to our hard won reputation as a meticulously fair, inclusive and strongly progressive employer and resent the accusation.”

Business minister Jenny Willott said: “Paying less than the minimum wage is not only wrong, it’s illegal. If employers break the law they need to know that they will face tough consequences.”

Image courtesy of Google Maps, with thanks.

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