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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 13805
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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We have been served with a notice from HMRC National Minimum

Customer Question

We have been served with a notice from HMRC National Minimum Wage unit after they came and reviewed the business and its pay policies after a former employee’s complaint of underpaying below the minimum wage. The reality is that they are all paid minimum wage, or above, but due to deduction policies for under-performing in the job task (slow packaging of items sold online sales) their wages can sometimes fall below minimum wage.The deductions are allowed if agreed in writing beforehand, as stated on UK dot Gov website under the info on minimum wage. We have such agreement in writing in the form of a signed contract. The HMRC has no problem with wage deductions for errors in packaging but only for speed related deductions. What is the law on this as their informal letter and conversations with them has not provided any case law to substantiate this? Should we challenge their stance by taking it to an industrial/employment tribunal which they say, we are entitled to do if we disagree with their findings. (See attached letter).
I think you will need to read what they wrote (they do not dispute there is a contractual basis) to answer this fully. The slow performance they do not regard as a matter of ‘misconduct and discipline’ but accept it for packing errors; task performance speed or lateness is classed by them as deductions for ‘any other event’. In my opinion, all are forms of misconduct hence allowable as deductions.
It is easy to achieve the packing target required and the employees concerned are those who deliberately ‘work slow’ either because they have been misguided by a fellow employee, or think why should I work hard when someone older (e.g. 25y+) is getting £7.83+ for packing the same amount of items as him getting £4.20. In all cases, the complainants have shown on occasions they can achieve bonuses of 25% or more but don't want to be conscientious workers, but rebels. Yes, I know we could follow verbal warning, written warning etc. but we know from experience that reward and punishment work best and many earn 10- 30% in bonuses in their pay.
Also, the minimum packing rate was decided 5/6 years ago after speaking to ACAS (by phone - no written record) and being told we could do so provided the rate is set at 20% below what has been found empirically as an average rate. They were referring to as piece workers and not hourly workers however I have not seen any reason why an employee cannot be both or at least one or the other at different times of the working day.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 9 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 9 months ago.

What age are the employees concerned?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
The ages is irrelevant, all are on NMW for their age; it is the deductions and bonuses that are the issue. Please read the attachment I sent with my question. As you failed to give complete answer previously so unless you are going to rectify that I would prefer that another employment lawyer.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 9 months ago.

ok I will leave it for others in this case

Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 9 months ago.
It seems the professional has left this conversation. This happens occasionally, and it's usually because the professional thinks that someone else might be a better match for your question. I've been working hard to find a new professional to assist you with your question, but sometimes finding the right professional can take a little longer than expected.
I wonder whether you're OK with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.
Thank you!
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I do require an answer ASAP. I do not agree that Ben Jones, the first solicitor, who was dealing with this matter has left it because he thought someone else was abler. I think he is experienced and very able judging by the thousands of feedbacks he has, but it would involve too much of his time to research the answer by searching LexisNexis etc. as my question is quite unusual even for employment lawyers. There must be enough lawyers in JustAnswers who know about employment law.
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 9 months ago.
We will continue to look for a Professional to assist you. Unfortunately JustAnswer cannot guarantee a time, however most questions are answered in a timely manner. Response times can be affected by the number of Experts online, the difficulty level of questions, question price, or other factors.
Thank you for your patience,