Tag Archives: employers

Were the Tories complicit in the great Covid-19 maternity pay dodge – or just incompetent as usual?

Cheated? If this (left) was a working mother who was pregnant in March, then it’s possible the government has colluded with her employer to cheat her out of her maternity pay.

Thousands of pregnant women may have been cheated out of maternity pay because the Tory government didn’t act fast enough to prevent employers from doing it.

The government changed rules in April, to ensure pregnant women and expectant fathers did not lose out on maternity/paternity pay if they had been furloughed on 80 per cent of their normal wage and had seen their pay fall below £120 a week (the cut-off point for wages below which the benefit isn’t payable).

But the same government imposed lockdown in March, meaning dodgy employers had a window of opportunity to put expectant mothers on a lower rate of pay that would eliminate their entitlement to 39 weeks of maternity pay worth thousands of pounds.

Pregnant women were classed as clinically vulnerable. They should have been sent home on full pay, but research by the Labour Party shows many were put on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) instead.

That is set at £95.85 per week, meaning any mother-to-be who has spent eight weeks shielding on that rate of pay would automatically miss out on maternity pay.

Sneaky, isn’t it?

Labour is calling for the regulations to be changed to ensure that people who were wrongly put on SSP in this way do not miss out on their maternity payments.

And the Tory government is refusing.

The Department for Work and Pensions is saying that anybody who has been affected in this way is welcome to take their case to an employment tribunal.

This will just gum up the tribunal system for no very good reason, and I can’t conceive of any good reason a government department would want to do that.

So we come to the question in the headline: were the Tories incompetent in failing to close this loophole in employment practice? Or were they complicit in helping employers cheat thousands of parents out of thousands of pounds?

Incompetence would be bad enough.

But from where I’m sitting, the Tories are guilty of something much worse.

Source: Pregnant women wrongly sent home on sick pay during pandemic, Labour says | Coronavirus outbreak | The Guardian

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Minimum wage: 37 firms shamed for failing to pay

[Image: The Guardian.]

It is now easier to report employers who fail to pay the minimum wage. [Image: The Guardian.]

Retail giant H&M and service station operator Welcome Break have been named and shamed for failing to pay the minimum wage – along with 35 other employers.

The firms were exposed after investigation by HM Revenue and Customs. They will be fined a total of £51,000 and must also pay affected staff the £177,000 they were underpaid.

This is not an example of extraordinary work by the Coalition Government, though. It is an example of HMRC actually managing to do its job properly, despite huge cuts to its staff and harm to its working conditions.

HMRC staff are to be applauded for their sterling work; managers less so.

The 37 “named and shamed” employers are as follows:
•Kings Group LLP, Hertfordshire, neglected to pay £53,808.91 to 53 workers
•Kings Group Lettings LLP, Hertfordshire, neglected to pay £26,893.43 to 49 workers
•Chi Yip Group Ltd, Middleton, neglected to pay £15,566.78 to 13 workers
•Kingsclere Nurseries Ltd trading as Abacus Day Nursery, Newbury, neglected to pay £12,904.19 to 8 workers.
•Ms Thap Thi Ly trading as Sweet N Sour, Fleetwood, neglected to pay £11,039.14 to 2 workers
•Michael Kearney trading as Electrical Estimates, Ceredigion, neglected to pay £5,557.91 to 4 workers
•ABC Early Learning and Childcare Centre UK Ltd, Wolverhampton, neglected to pay £5,329.25 to 68 workers
•C J Hartley Ltd trading as Headwork, Sheffield, neglected to pay £4,762.64 to 4 workers
•Mrs Kelly Jayne Lockley trading as Diva Hair Design, Walsall, neglected to pay £4,103.65 to a worker
•Browncow Tanning Ltd trading as Fake Bake Hair & Beauty Boutique, Glasgow, neglected to pay £3,406.66 to 2 workers
•J Wood Joiners & Builders Ltd, Edinburgh, neglected to pay £3,373.19 to 4 workers
•Louise Ross Trading as Luxe Salon, Leeds, neglected to pay £3,368.13 to a worker
•H&M Hennes & Mauritz UK Ltd, London, neglected to pay £2,604.87 to 540 workers
•Building Projects Ltd, Dundee, neglected to pay £2,345.85 to 3 workers
•David A Farrer Ltd, Morecambe, neglected to pay £2,261.00 to a worker
•Julian’s Hair Salon Ltd, Newbury, neglected to pay £2,131.35 to a worker
•Motorists Discount Store Ltd trading as TMS Autoparts, Manchester, neglected to pay £2,025.19 to a worker
•Ms Dawn Platts trading as Level 2 Hair Studio, Barnsley, neglected to pay £1,186.89 to a worker
•Myers and Family Ltd, Wakefield, neglected to pay £1.598.82 to a worker
•Welcome Break Holdings Ltd, Newport Pagnell, neglected to pay £1,318.70 to 19 workers
•Callum Austin Ltd trading as Jason Austin Hairdressers, Kettering, neglected to pay £1,899.66 to 2 workers
•Mrs Karen Riley Trading as Crave, Preston, neglected to pay £1,179.09 to 7 workers
•RPM Performance Rally World Ltd, Maldon, neglected to pay £998.71 to a worker
•Ego Hair & Beauty (Anglia) Ltd, Colchester, neglected to pay £985.55 to a worker
•Mr Jinit Shah trading as Crystal Financial Solutions, Middlesex, neglected to pay £941.65 to a worker
•Counted4 Community Interest Company, Sunderland, neglected to pay £930.73 to a worker
•HAE Automotive Services Ltd, Harrogate (ceased trading), neglected to pay £798.16 to a worker
•Vision on Digital Ltd, Ossett, neglected to pay £683.86 to a worker
•Ultimate Care UK Ltd, Ipswich, neglected to pay £613.79 to 7 workers
•Century Motors (Sheffield) Ltd, Sheffield, neglected to pay £571.72 to a worker
•Mr D Eastwell & Mr G Brinkler trading as The Salon, Letchworth Garden City, neglected to pay £409.85 to a worker
•Rumble (Bedworth) Ltd, Nuneaton, neglected to pay £404.41 to a worker
•Shannons Ltd, Worthing neglected to pay £313.76 to a worker
•Holmes Cleaning Company, Worksop neglected to pay £240.48 to a worker
•Learnplay Foundation Ltd, West Bromwich, neglected to pay £224.73 to a worker
•Adrien Mackenzie trading as Maverick Models, Manchester, neglected to pay £205.52 to a worker
•QW Security Ltd, Hartlepool, neglected to pay £126.20 to a worker

Workers had made complaints to the free and confidential ‘Pay and Work Rights’ Helpline.

The scheme was revised in October 2013 to make it simpler to report employers who do not comply with minimum wage rules.

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Labour’s latest welfare betrayal means the party could change name to ‘Red Conservatives’

Red Tory betrayal: He might as well have said, "We're going to grip the poor by the throat and push them down so far and so hard that they'll never be able to get on their feet again."

Red Tory betrayal: He might as well have said, “We’re going to grip the poor by the throat and push them down so far and so hard that they’ll never be able to get on their feet again.”

The Red Conservative Party has announced a new policy attack on people receiving benefits, in its latest bid to out-Tory the Blue Conservatives.

Ed Cameron announced that he would impose a three-year cap on any welfare spending not linked to the economic cycle, stealing an idea put forward by George Osborne of the original Conservative Party during the March budget.

He also vowed to make people work for two years before they qualify for a new, higher rate of Jobseekers’ Allowance.*

Shadow work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Byrne said the cap would force a Labour government to engage in long-term reforms necessary to bring the welfare bill down.

Neither man actually spelled out which benefits would be affected by the cap.

But Ed Cameron tried to salvage his party’s reputation in the eyes of left-wing supporters by promising to drive down rents and improve pay.

And in a contradictory move, he said he would not abandon the long-standing goal of abolishing child poverty by 2020, even though his new policies mean that, inevitably, more children will suffer poverty through no fault of their own.

Cut through the spin and the above is, pretty much, what has been announced. The Labour Party is becoming even more right-wing, rather than less, as the Tory tabloids claimed when Ed Miliband became the leader.

It seems that failing to reverse the abolition of universal child benefit was just the tip of the iceberg, Ed Miliband’s father, Ralph Miliband, must be spinning in his grave… In fact, he’s probably drilling his way through the Earth’s crust towards countries unknown, in the same way I said William Beveridge must be, after Liam Byrne’s Guardian article on the welfare state in 2012.

What we’re seeing isn’t really a conversion to Conservatism – although the retention of critically dangerous neoliberal elements at the top of the party structure means this will continue to be a threat. It’s actually worse than that.

This is a Labour Party that goes any way the wind blows.

Does anybody remember the great Tony Benn’s comments about politicians being either signposts or weathercocks? It has been mentioned previously, in this blog. He said some politicians are like signposts. They point in the direction they want to travel and say, “This is the way we must go!” And they are constant. Others are like weathercocks; they lick their fingers, find out which direction the political winds are blowing and follow.

The Guardian illustrates that Miliband has become a cock in its article, stating that the new announcement “is seen as critical to Labour being able to claw back its poll deficit on welfare and show its ability to take tough decisions”.

It will do neither.

If Labour wanted to “claw back its poll deficit on welfare” it would be announcing new policies to tackle the causes of unemployment, sickness and disability, in order to ensure that unemployment was never again likely to rise as high as it has. This means helping industry; it means restoring the National Health Service; it means making sure employers – especially the really large ones who think they can get away with anything – conform strictly to health and safety laws and can’t blame employees’ work-based sicknesses on anything other than their own negligence.

It means setting the terms of a new debate on this issue – not meekly accepting the Conservatives’ warped frame of reference.

Because, you see, that doesn’t indicate an “ability to take tough decisions”. Nor does copying an idea already mentioned by a Conservative. Tough decisions are those that the public might find hard to accept at first – about policies that might need to be explained before they are accepted. Labour isn’t making any tough decisions. It is following the Conservative/Coalition example and that simply is not good enough.

The Guardian article says Labour hopes the electorate “will focus on the party’s decision to take a credible and specific stance on the deficit, after three years of low growth, rather than punish Labour for its apparent volte face [about turn] by ending three years of criticism of welfare cuts”.

There is no chance of that happening. The electorate is not stupid and I predict that those parts of it that have supported Labour as a force for working people, those who want to work but are unemployed through no fault of their own, and those who have been invalided out of work, again through no fault of their own, will desert the party en masse. Miliband and Byrne might pick up a few right-wing votes – but not enough to make a difference. They will lose far more than they will gain.

Note particularly that line about “ending three years of criticism of welfare cuts”. They’ve stopped criticising the Conservatives/Coalition about cuts that are literally ending UK citizens’ lives at an alarming rate. That is not – and will never be – justifiable on any level at all.

Let’s not forget that an average of 73 people a week are dying as a result of Conservative/Coalition policies on benefits – possibly many more, as this figure is nearly a year old. A Labour government that would allow this to continue is not an electable Labour government.

This announcement marks the beginning of the Conservative victory in 2015.

Thanks for nothing, Ed Miliband. Thanks for nothing, Liam Byrne.

Shame on you, you sell-outs.

*Interestingly, the Blue Conservative mouthpiece BBC misleadingly reported that Labour believed “only people who pay into the system for more than two years should get Jobseekers’ Allowance” at all! This seems to be an inaccuracy but it is damaging and more people will read it.

Suicide rate is now the strongest indicator of unemployment

Iain Duncan Smith has been crowing about the private sector after the official unemployment figure dropped from 8.2 to 8 per cent of the workforce.

He reckons we should take our hats off to private sector employers for providing the new work. Well he would, wouldn’t he?

His attitude conforms with the narrative the Tories have been trying to build since 2010, that the private sector would rush in to fill the jobs gap left behind after the Coalition cut the public sector to ribbons – providing decent, gainful employment for the masses.

That story went straight into the circular file when the economy flatlined, right after George Osborne took charge – and resurrecting it now seems a desperate act, especially in the light of the facts.

Firstly, the Olympics have distorted the figures. We don’t know how many employers took on extra hands in advance of the games, so we don’t know how many of those jobs will go again, now that the major event is over. We do know that businesses suffered losses during the games because an expected influx of consumers did not materialise; how will that affect future figures?

Second, the number of people working part-time because they cannot find a full-time job hit a record high of 1.42 million – the most since records began in 1992.

Third, the unemployment rate actually rose in around half of the British regions. This supports the claim that the Olympics distorted the figures, and points to a continuing downward trend.

Finally, if Mr Smith wants a more accurate monitor of unemployment, he should look at the suicide rate – according to a new report by the British Medical Journal.

It found that the suicide rate among men rose by 1.4 per cent for every 10 per cent increase in unemployment.   This means that between 2008-2010, 846 more men ended their life than would normally have been expected; the corresponding number for women was an extra 155 suicides.   On average, male unemployment rose by 25.6 per cent in each of those years, while the male suicide rate rose by 3.6 per cent each year. When male employment rates rose briefly in 2010, the suicide rate dropped slightly.

We already know that an average of 32 people per week are dying as a result of Mr Smith’s brutalities against the disabled; now we know that more than 1,000 have been driven to kill themselves because of the government’s unemployment policy.

Meanwhile, among those who do have jobs, we know that average wages now only last 21 days in the month, meaning that workers have to dip into their savings, ask family for funds, or go to loan sharks for help – increasing the national debt problem and creating a trend that could lead to even more suicides.

I notice Iain Duncan Smith, promoter of the private sector, hasn’t got anything to say about that.

The bare minimum – and what it gets you

COMMUNICATING with people who have opposing points of view can be very valuable and I advise everybody to try it.

I mention this because I have been chatting with some of the folk on the Conservatives’ Facebook page, about this week’s big subject – work and working conditions. It follows my article, Benefits v bonuses – everybody’s a loser, to which some of them took offence, and I wanted to draw your attention to our dialogue about the minimum wage.

They want it dropped. One of them claimed it has devalued jobs, saying that he used to work in a warehouse, driving forklift trucks, for around £9 per hour – but when the minimum wage was brought in, the hourly rate went down all over the warehousing industry and suddenly idiots were driving trucks, taking no care in what they were doing.  If they did something wrong, they were sacked and another employed who was just as bad.

This indicates that “you get what your worth”, the gentleman said, and then asked how small businesses can be expected to survive when they have to pay a good wage, even if the person is no good.

My answer was that, unfortunately, you don’t get what you’re worth.
Employers try to pay the lowest amount possible, and in the case of these forklift truck drivers that was the absolute minimum. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys (as the saying goes) and that’s what happened – the quality of the workforce dropped.
If the workforce had been unionised, it could have negotiated for better pay and higher-quality workers. I know unions have not been very strong since the days of Mrs Thatcher – but they do have their uses sometimes!

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