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Government urges caution for National Living Wage workers


As the day marking the start of the National Living Wage approaches, government research has revealed that almost a third of the country’s lowest paid workers are not checking their payslips.

According to the results of a government survey on employees receiving the correct wages, 32% do not check to make sure they are being paid the correct rate. Those living in the North West and East of England are the most lax in this regard, with 41% of workers there not checking, whilst at the other end only 11% of workers in the North East were guilty of this negligence.

The new National Living Wage will be introduced on Friday and will entitle workers aged 25 and over to £7.20 an hour. With the current minimum wage standing at £6.70, many are set to benefit, though a number of companies have attempted to offload the cost of the increase by reducing pay for special circumstances.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, one B&Q manager claimed the business is removing extra pay for those working on Sundays, as well as bonuses and allowances for areas with a high cost of living. The DIY retailer is pressing employees to sign their acceptance of the new terms or risk dismissal.

“Our aim is to reward all of our people fairly so that employees who are doing the same job receive the same pay,” a B&Q spokesperson said. “That isn’t the case at the moment as some have been benefiting from allowances for a long time when others have not and that can’t continue. Over 12 months ago, long before the National Living Wage announcement, we commenced a review of our pay and reward framework introduced in 2004, and these changes reflect that view.”

A number of bystanders, including MPs, have criticised the new wage plan for allowing companies to adapt this way, whilst others have called it unfair that over 25’s will not benefit. Siobhain McDonagh MP referred to a friend of hers at B&Q who will earn “£2,600 a year” less as a result of the company’s changes.

According to the governmental survey 80% of workers are expected to talk to their boss if they do not receive an increase. It remains to be seen if any companies will need to be held accountable for moves made in preparation for 1 April, but with different companies reacting to the increase in different ways, all workers are urged to make sure they are not treated unfairly from Friday onwards.

Published on Tuesday 29 March by Philip Gallagher

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