A NORTH WEST business has been named as one of nearly 100 in the country to have failed to have paid staff the minimum wage.
A report released by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills says Wigan-based facilities management firm Oltec, who provide security, cleaning, tracking and pest control amongst other services, failed to pay £774 to four employees.
More than 90 employers who have failed to pay their workers the National Minimum Wage were named and shamed by business secretary Nick Boles .
The firm defended itself today, saying it was as a result of deductions for training costs, as agreed in a contract.
CEO Olivier Cavaliere said: “Oltec Group prides itself as being a caring employer, placing emphasis on the welfare and training of all our 1,000 staff. We have always paid at least the minimum wage, with the majority of our employees now earning well above this.
“We spend a significant amount of money on training every year and as such, our employees are required to sign a legally binding contract, which stipulates that if they do not complete at least 12 months’ employment with us, a proportion of the training cost may be deducted from their final pay.
“Referring to the recent announcement, we would like to confirm that Oltec Group were fully investigated and it was identified that Oltec Group made some training cost deductions to four employees from their final pay.
“We would like to clarify that these deductions were made in line with their contract of employment, which they signed in full knowledge that these deductions would be made if they failed to complete the minimum employment period with our company.
“What transpired from the investigation, which we were totally unaware of, was that it is illegal to deduct training costs or a proportion of them from a final pay if this makes their wages fall below the minimum wage, based on the hours that they have worked.
“There is no criticism about compliance for the rest of their employment, it is only related to their last pay and associated deductions for training costs due to leaving the company within 12 months.
“Whilst this was an isolated incident, which happened 18 months ago, we have now taken the necessary steps to ensure that this does not happen again.
“We would like to take this opportunity to warn other employers to check their processes and contracts of employment to ensure that they comply with the law. “Our view is that this may make some employers wary of offering training courses to lower paid staff if they think they may walk out of the job without any penalty.
“It also seems unfair that higher paid employees can still be subjected to the deductions.”
Identifying 92 employers, Mr Boles said: “As a one nation government on the side of working people we are determined that everyone who is entitled to the National Minimum Wage receives it. There is no excuse for not paying staff the wages they’re entitled to.
“Our policy of naming and shaming employers who ignore the law means there are consequences for their reputation as well as their wallets.
“In April we will introduce a new National Living Wage which will mean a pay rise of over £900-a-year for someone working full time on the minimum wage and we will enforce this equally robustly.”
From April 1 workers aged 25 and over will be entitled to the national living wage of £7.20 per hour.
Businesses who have any questions about the National Minimum Wage can should visit www.acas.org.uk.