First employer fined for breaking minimum pay laws

The first employer has been found guilty of underpaying their staff.

A nursery owner from north London has been convicted of obstruction in the first criminal prosecution over minimum wage legislation.

Teresa Aguda, the proprietor of Rascals Day Nursery Ltd, Walthamstow, was yesterday found guilty of preventing HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers from looking at staff records.

Officers had been attempting to investigate whether nursery workers were receiving the national minimum wage and the prosecution was launched by Revenue and Custom’s Prosecutions Office (RCPO).

Judge Gott told Waltham Forest Magistrates’ Court that Mrs Aguda had “demonstrated a clear and deliberate intent to obstruct officers” and the case was a serious breach of national minimum wage legislation.

Mrs Aguda was fined £2,500 with £500 costs.

Andy Millican, criminal investigation team leader for HM Revenue & Customs said: “This prosecution sends a clear message to employers that HMRC and RCPO will actively pursue those we suspect of flouting National Minimum Wage law.

“If employers obstruct us and refuse to comply with the law they could receive a fine and a criminal record.”

“We have a duty to ensure workers receive their salary entitlement. The majority of employers do assist us with our investigations, but if they don’t we will pursue cases through the criminal courts.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber welcomed the prosecution and said the full force of the law should be used against employers who withhold the minimum wage.

He said: “It is good to see Revenue and Customs take this tough line. It is simply not good enough merely to make employers pay employees what they should have been paid, they should be punished as well.”

The national minimum wage is currently £5.35 an hour for workers aged 22 or over or £4.45 an hour for 18 to 21-year-olds. It will rise to £5.52 and £4.60 respectively in October.