A hairdressing salon has been ‘named and shamed’ by the government for paying staff below the minimum wage.
Zoom, in Park Parade, Leigh Park, is on a published list of 25 firms investigated by HMRC and found owing more than £43,000 to workers.
Mike Joines, the owner of Zoom, was fined for underpaying three people £242.28.
He said in each instance it ran into only a few pence per hour and added: ‘I strive to be a good employer, paying a fair wage for a fair day’s work.
‘It is absolutely outrageous that I should be called a criminal in public.
‘It is not straightforward. I admit I’m guilty of not paying the minimum wage.
‘HMRC went through everything with a fine-tooth comb and this was £242 over a three-year period and was three out of 18 members of staff.’
The investigation was sparked when an employee made a complaint to the HMRC’s Pay and Work Rights helpline.
One employee was owed £72 which Mr Joines puts down to an admin error because he had not realised they had turned 21. It meant their hourly wage increased from £4.98 to £6.19.
The second employee still works for Mr Joines and was underpaid by £123. They were paid £2.50 an hour as an apprentice when they should have been paid £2.60.
And the third employee – another trainee – was paid £2.60 an hour instead of £2.68. They were owed £21.16.
Mr Joines said: ‘I had no intention of defrauding him. Why would I for eight pence per hour? This employee is doing well and is still employed by us. So this is the sum of my criminal activity – activity for which I should have my reputation ruined?’
Mr Joines had to pay a fine of the same amount he owed to his employees. But that is set to change under new legislation with fines of up to £20,000 per employee.
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. If anyone suspects they are not being paid the wage they are legally entitled to they should call the Pay and Work Rights helpline on 0800 917 2368.’
The National Minimum Wage rate per hour depends on your age and whether you are an apprentice.
It currently varies from £2.68 for apprentices to £6.31 for people 21 and over.