Sir David Metcalf, director of labour market enforcement, signalled he wanted tougher action against employers who underpay, and more resources to catch those breaching the law. In an interview with the Observer, he said action against offenders was “rather patchy” and he would look at measures that could lead to more people banned from being company directors if they breach the law.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) would need additional resources, he said, to ensure that workers were paid the new living wage. Its workload would triple, with the proportion of the workforce covered by the minimum wage set to rise from 5% to 14% by 2020.
“Do we have the right level of enforcement resources, and/or are the fines high enough? This is something I am going to properly look at,” Metcalf said. “It is the case that HMRC has had double the enforcement resources in the last two years – it has gone up from £12m to £25m. But it may be we need to do more.”
Metcalf oversees the remit of HMRC’s national minimum wage enforcement team, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate. He said the government’s decision to impose fees on bringing cases to employment tribunals had “been a problem” in the fight against bad employers.