Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland firms Bluebird Care Coleraine and Fitzroy Builders named and shamed for not paying staff minimum wage

By Adrian Rutherford

Two Northern Ireland firms have been named and shamed on a list of employers who failed to pay workers the National Minimum Wage.

They are Coleraine-based home care provider Bluebird Care and Fitzroy Builders in Newtownards.

The two firms failed to pay amounts totalling nearly £10,000 to 69 workers.

Both are named on the list of more than 200 companies across the UK published by the Government yesterday.

The employers range from football clubs and hotels to hairdressers and even a gun club.

Locally, Azafran Ltd, trading as Bluebird Care, owed £3,708 to 67 workers.

Director Sue MacLaughlin said: "The team at Bluebird Care Coleraine always go above and beyond to deliver outstanding care to our customers and are the most important aspect of our business. Ensuring that my team are paid higher than national minimum wage, now called National Living Wage, has always been my top priority.

"The HMRC inspection happened in September 2014 and I have ensured that we have paid any historic shortfalls highlighted as a result of that inspection.

"I am very sorry for any shortfall in pay that any member of my team had and I would never knowingly underpay my staff.

"I remain grateful for my team's exceptional passion, commitment and dedication to their critical role in delivering the very best home care and support services to our community."

Michael Holmes, trading as Fitzroy Builders, owed £5,372 to two employees.

Mr Holmes said: "It was a trainee who we had thought was on a scheme, but wasn't on a scheme. The scheme expired when he was with us, but we weren't advised."

Mr Holmes said his company no longer employs people on training schemes.

Across the UK, 198 companies owed £466,219 in arrears. All of the money owed to these workers has been paid back to them.

Since the scheme was introduced in October 2013, 688 employers have been named and shamed, with total arrears of more than £3.5m. The living wage for workers aged 25 and over was introduced in April, giving a pay rise of more than £900 a year for someone previously working full-time on the national minimum wage.

The national minimum wage still applies to workers aged under 25.

Brighton and Hove Albion FC and Blackpool FC were among those not paying the legal minimum rate, each to one worker.

Other employers named in the latest batch include a newsagents, builders, caterers, an off licence, restaurants, job recruiters and hairdressers.

Business Minister Margot James said: "This Government is determined to build an economy that works for everyone, and not just the privileged few.

"That means making sure everyone gets paid the wages they are owed - including our new, higher, National Living Wage. It is not acceptable that some employers fail to pay at least the minimum wage their workers are entitled to.

"So we'll continue to crack down on those who ignore the law, including by naming and shaming them."

Belfast Telegraph

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