Named and shamed nursery critical of 'heavy-handedness'

Administrative error doesn't justify publicity says Hertfordshire nursery in pay rate row.

Bedding for little: staff member at Bryants was being under-paid - image: HW
Bedding for little: staff member at Bryants was being under-paid - image: HW

A nursery that was "named and shamed" by the government as part of a new crackdown on employers who failed to pay their staff the national minimum wage has said the move was "well over the top" for what he says was a simple administrative error.

A total of 25 employers were named, including Bryants Nurseries in Hertfordshire, which neglected to pay £494.07 to a worker almost two years ago.

Between them, they owe workers more than £43,000 in arrears, and face fines totalling more than £21,000.

Owner Richard Bryant said: "I can understand what they're trying to do but to penalise people in the press and on TV and potentially jeopardise business reputations for what in effect is an over-sight is so heavy-handed it's ridiculous beyond words. I'm very angry about it."

He said a wage inspector noticed a discrepancy where one employee, who had turned 21 and therefore was entitled to a higher wage, had not been paid the higher rate.

Bryant said: "It was just a simple administrative error. We didn't realise her age had changed. We didn't know and she didn't know until an inspector came round."

Bedding nursery Bryants employs almost 60 staff in the season. The government also plans to increase fines, so that an employer underpaying 10 workers could face penalties of up to £200,000.

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.

"Any worker who is entitled to the minimum wage should receive it. Anyone suspecting they are not being paid the wage they are legally entitled to should call the Pay and Work Rights helpline on 0800 917 2368."

KeyStat

National Minimum Wage - rising to £6.50 per hour from October

£6.31 per hour


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