A report has been published this month by the University of Middlesex, which reports initial findings that British workers are being denied £1.2bn in unpaid wages, and £1.5bn in unpaid holiday pay.
The report has found that 1 in 20 workers do not receive the paid holiday they are entitled to, and further to this, 1 in 12 workers are not provided with a pay slip. These are both a breach of workers’ employment rights.
Due to the difficulty in finding accurate data to represent the true scale of the failure to pay wages in Britain, researcher Mr Nick Clark of Middlesex University, has described the results as being just the “tip of the iceberg in terms of painting a realistic picture of unpaid Britain”.
The report also found that the impact of unpaid or delayed wages is so severe that, on an estimated 23 occasions each year, leads to workers being unable to afford food.
It was found that the sectors most likely not to pay wages included sports activities, amusement and recreation, food and beverage services and employment activities. In London (where the statistics were primarily gathered), arts, entertainment and construction were also high offenders.
The report discusses the likely underlying causes for this problem having now reached epidemic proportions, and included in those underlying causes are:-
- Low risk detection by enforcement bodies;
- Absence of effective enforcement;
- Workers’ lack of knowledge of their rights;
- Workers’ reluctance to pursue employers, particularly while their employment continues;
- Restrictions in access to justice; and
- No pursuit or penalty for employer recidivism (apart from National Minimum Wage offences).
These findings show a desperate need for improved workers protection and better guidance on worker rights, and how these can be enforced.
Mr Clark also commented that “with an uncertain Brexit around the corner, there had never been a more important time to safeguard, protect and enhance workers’ rights”.
The chair of the independent review of employment practices in the modern economy, Mr Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts) is conducting a review to consider whether employment practices need to change in order to keep pace with modern business models.
At Jackson Boyd, our Employment Team specialises in advising employees and employers in relation to employee and workers’ rights, including unpaid wages or holiday pay. Please get in touch with us to speak with one of our experts, should you require any advice or wish to know more about your or your employees’ rights, in this area.
Please contact us online by clicking here or speak to a member of our specialist team on 0333 222 1855.