Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has backed the creation of a new organisation to uphold the rights of workers.
In a submission to the Low Pay Commission, the charity highlights malpractice from across Scotland, such as three EU nationals were paid £150 per week for up to 80 hours labour, significantly below the National Minimum Wage before being fired when they tried to challenge their employer.
In another, a client continued to be paid at a previous minimum wage rate despite raising the matter with his boss on multiple occasions. Other workers are not getting updated minimum wage rates and are being paid in cash on an ad hoc basis.
CAS is backing a new body to have the powers to investigate National Minimum Wage breaches along with allowing workers to confidentially report things like breaches of their maternity, holiday, sickness, pay, dismissal, redundancy and other rights.
The call comes after a report published by the Resolution Foundation earlier this week, found that one in twenty workers don’t have access to paid holidays.
Citizens Advice Social Justice spokesperson Mhoraig Green said:
“It’s clear from clients across Scotland who are contacting Citizens Advice Bureaux that there are employers who are still ripping off workers.
“We help hundreds of thousands of people each year and employment matters have always been one of the biggest issues coming through our doors, but the scale of some of the behaviour still shocks us.
“Cases involving those working in hospitality or retail appear to be particularly common as well as cases involving workers from outwith the UK who, in some instances, have been paid considerably below the minimum wage.
“The creation of a national organisation to enforce employment laws would stamp out illegal work practices and uphold the rights of workers who are simply doing their honest day’s work.
“Workers should be wary of being paid ‘cash in hand’ or not receiving written payslips and if they are worried about their pay or working hours or think their employer might be exploiting them, their local bureau is here to help.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Full response is attached. Examples of cases seen across the Citizens Advice network include;
- A West of Scotland CAB reports of a client who works as a parking attendant, who had moved to being paid weekly rather than monthly and was concerned that he may be paying extra tax and National Insurance as a result. He did not receive written payslips, and it emerged that he was being paid below the national minimum wage.
- An East of Scotland CAB reports of a client who worked for an estate agent. She is unhappy about her contract which states she could be asked to work up to 3 hours overtime per week without pay.
- East of Scotland CAB reports of a client and their two friends who are all EU nationals and students aged 20 – 22. They had been working in a restaurant during the summer. The employer had given the clients contracts to sign but had never provided a copy. The contract was verbally agreed however and was implied by the work carried out. The clients had been working varying shifts of up to 80 hours a week, for an offered salary of about £150 per week. This is vastly below minimum wage and is vastly above the 48 hour maximum allowed by law. If the client didn't want to work, the employer would get angry and complain to them, threatening their job safety. The employer also did not pay the clients, instead offering them only what was necessary for their rent and pocket money’ for items like packets of cigarettes. This was as opposed to the Scottish workers in the same establishment, who, after complaining, received the full money owed to them, so is potential discrimination. Three days ago the clients were told to not return to the business. The client wishes to know what action they could take to claim the money owed to them. Across the three clients approximately £7,000 is owed.
- A North of Scotland CAB reports of a client who had been working at a tattoo parlour for the past two months. The client has been working without a contract and has been paid cash (initially £1,250 per month and recently reduced to £850 per month). The client typically works 8am - 5pm with a half hour lunch break, 6 days per week, totalling over 200 hours per month. The client does not receive payslips and has been paid cash "here and there".