Textile factories face £87,158 bill for not paying minimum wage

Textile Factory HMRC
// UK textile factories to pay £87,158 to workers
// Since 2012, HMRC has looked into 93 textile industry employers

Scores of UK textile factories have been accused of regularly failing to pay employees the national minimum wage, often relying on a “culture of fear and intimidation” to justify their underpayment.

Around a quarter of UK-based clothing manufacturers have been forced to pay almost £90,000 to employees after failing to pay them the minimum wage after being subject to a HMRC investigation over a six-year period.

Since 2012, HMRC has looked into 93 textile industry employers, and in 24 cases found a bill of £87,158 owed to staff.

It said 14 investigations were ongoing.

Thousands of UK textile factories are being probed now by HMRC according to records sent in by HMRC director Janet Alexander to the Environmental Audit Committee, which is investigating the impact and sustainability of the fashion industry.

“‘Made in the UK’ should mean workers are paid at least the minimum wage,” Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh MP said.

“It has been 20 years since the introduction of the minimum wage but in our inquiry, we heard that underpayment is rife and goes hand in hand with a culture of fear and intimidation in the UK’s textile industry.

“This letter adds to the scandalous and growing evidence of workers being criminally underpaid in the UK. This must stop. We need Government action to end these 19th century practices in 21st century Britain.”

Alexander’s letter revealed that over £1350 has been paid in wage arrears to 10 workers following HMRC investigations, which is equivalent to more than three weeks’ pay at the national minimum wage.

In 2014/15 47 workers were back-paid a total of £23,450 and in 2017/18 this figure almost doubled with 42 workers paid £42,787.

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