From today residents and employees in the city will be able to dial a local telephone number to inform on employers who fail to pay staff the current legal minimum of£3.70 an hour for adults and£3.20 for young people. The line is also open for local employers to inform on other employers who are breaking the law by paying too little.
People who ring the 370 320 number will be guaranteed anonymity if required. Details of all calls will be referred to the Inland Revenue which will investigate every complaint received. Where callers request it, an information pack giving details of benefits for those on low incomes will be sent to them.
The 'cheat line' is the first local enforcement project in the country for the national minimum wage. The project, conceived locally, will be titled the 'Fair Pay? Fair Play' initiative, and complies with the latest Low Pay Commission report which argued for a small number of community based pilot projects in areas where there is a likely risk of non-compliance.
It has been set up by Kingston upon Hull City Council's social inclusion team in partnership with the department of trade and industry and the inland revenue. The project is also backed by the Hull branch of the trade union Unison, local young people's charity The Warren and [Consortium] Hull, a private sector employment partnership.
The 'cheat line' number will be publicised in a high-profile advertising campaign on local radio, business and posters across the city.
Kingston upon Hull City Council's social inclusion portfolio holder, Councillor Danny Brown, welcomed the project: 'This is a project designed to deal with low pay as a problem for both those employed and those in competition with underpayers. It will ensure increased income for the poorest paid and a level playing field for all of Hull's employers. It is a great example of pioneering partnership work in the city.'
1) The National Minimum Wage was introduced with effect from 1st April 1999. The Department of Trade and Industry is responsible for Guidance about the operation of the National Minimum Wage, the Regulations and the arrangements for compliance and enforcement.
2) The Low Pay Commission (LPC) is the independent advisory body established as a result of the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 to advise the government about the national minimum wage.
The commission has so far reported twice to the government. Its first report in May 1998 recommended how the national minimum wage should work and the initial level at which it should be set. The second report, in February 2000 evaluated the introduction and impact of the national minimum wage.
3) In September 1998, Kingston Upon Hull City Council established a social inclusion task group which operated until March 1999. This task group adopted a model for tackling social exclusion.
The framework which followed is structured around 6 key pledges, the first four of which are directly related to tackling inequalities relating to life chances and opportunities for young people, income and economic opportunities, inequality between communities and inequality in levels of autonomy, dependency and citizenship.
4) The commitment to establish the 'Fair Pay? Fair Play' line was made as part of the low incomes and access to services sub group of the task group in June 1999.
The project is to provide a locally focused campaign ensuring that a compliance culture is created within the city. It is believed that individuals are more likely to contact an enforcement-specific telephone service which is run locally and grounded in a strong, local, cross-sectoral partnership, led by the local authority in its role as community leader, than to make use of the national help-line.