Salon boss in Leicester pays up in minimum wage case
A salon owner has been ordered to pay more than £3,300 to a former member of staff after underpaying her for four-and-a-half months.
Rita Patel (44), who owns Treena Professional Hair and Beauty, in Uppingham Road, Leicester, appeared at the city's County Court yesterday.
She was found guilty of failing to pay the minimum wage to one of her employees.
Between June and October 2010, Patel paid the 17-year-old woman £342 for 20 weeks' work.
FREE ENTRANCE & 30% OFF YOUR FOOD BILL WITH LIVE BELLY DANCER SAT...View details
NEW LEBANESE HOME BUFFET EVERY DAY @ CEDARS LEBANESE REST £ 6.99 pp STARTING @ 11 AM TILL 16:00 PM
Terms: LIMITED VOUCHERS AVAILABLE BOOK IN ADVANCE ONLY & PRINT THIS VOUCHERS CALL NOW : 01162519057
Contact: 0116 2169184
Valid until: Saturday, May 25 2013
Under the National Minimum Wage Act, she was entitled to £3,703.
Commenting on the case, Norman Lamb, Minister for Employment Relations, said: "The law is clear. Any worker who is entitled to the minimum wage should receive it, that's why we are committed to clamping down on those who break the law."
Patel said she thought the girl was at her salon for training and did not qualify for the minimum wage.
She told the Mercury yesterday: "It was a misunderstanding. I didn't appoint her for a job, I spoke to her mother before and we agreed that she would come here for training.
"I paid her for some cleaning she did. I gave her £100 here and £90 there – but I didn't keep any records.
"It's my first business and my first experience and it's only when people came and told me that I realised what I had to do."
The worker, who was 17 when she started at the salon, should have been paid £3.57 an hour between June 14 and July 31.
As she turned 18, her entitlement rose to £4.83, which she should have received between August 1 and October 2.
The rate for 18 to 21-year-olds then increased to £4.92, which she should have been paid from October 3 to 30.
When the debt was brought before the court by HM Revenue and Customs, Patel was charged at the latest rates.
She was ordered to pay £3.64 an hour for the period when the member of staff was under 17, and £4.92 thereafter. In total, Patel will have to pay £3,361.22.
Martin Traynor, chief executive of Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce, said: "The minimum wage is there by law and employers need to meet that.
"What it does is create a level playing field for businesses.
"Without it, it would be unfair for employees and for other businesses."
Patel was prosecuted through the Business, Innovation and Skills scheme, which came into effect last year. It is aimed at naming employers who flout minimum wage law.
Business owners who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back arrears of wages at current minimum wage rates and face financial penalties of up to £5,000.
In the most serious cases employers can be prosecuted.