Weymouth & Portland Action on Wages (WeyPAW) 19 September 2019
A new report from the Resolution Foundation provides important insight into the wages crisis in South Dorset and in particular the growing problem of household poverty in Weymouth and Portland.
The report, From Rights to Reality, examines labour market violations across the UK – the extent to which employers fail to comply with laws on the National Minimum Wage and in-work benefits, including holiday pay. See: https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/from-rights-to-reality/
Using official government figures, the Foundation finds that millions of workers do not receive the minimum wage: many do not receive a payslip and are denied benefits to which they are legally entitled. These practices are found most often in specific areas of the economy, notably the leisure sector, which dominates employment in South Dorset.
Weymouth and Portland Action on Wages (WeyPAW) believes the new report adds to evidence that problems of insecure, low-paid work, combined with violations of employer law, are suppressing wages in the area. The long-term impact is severe: child poverty in some areas of Weymouth and Portland now exceeds 40 per cent. WeyPAW’s conference, to be held on September 28, will address the wages crisis and its implications for health and well-being in South Dorset.*
In the leisure sector, and in other key areas including childcare and office work, the Resolution Foundation finds “widespread non-compliance” across the UK with laws on minimum wages and terms of employment.
Underpayment is a key issue, says the Foundation. In the leisure sector, which includes hotels, holiday camps, campsites, restaurants, cafes, fast-food outlets, pubs and bars, almost 30 per cent of workers are paid below the minimum wage. One in five jobs in Weymouth and Portland is in this sector – more than twice the national average.
Nationally, one in ten workers report that they are not provided with a payslip – a legal obligation on employers and a key means of checking wages, hours worked, holiday pay and other key provisions. In hotels and restaurants this figure rises to one in six of the workforce. One in ten workers also report that they have been denied holiday pay: a figure that reaches 15 per cent among those employed in hotels and restaurants, 40 per cent among all those on temporary contracts and almost 50 per cent among those on zero-hours contracts.
The report finds that “workers are often unaware that they are being short-changed”, or – if they are aware – are reluctant or too frightened to report the truth. They may also be unaware of their rights and of bodies such as employment tribunals that exist to support them in securing unpaid wages or other violations of employment law. Workers in hotels and restaurants are among those least likely to take formal action through an employment tribunal.
The Resolution Foundation finds these problems are particularly acute among young people. This is a key issue in Weymouth and Portland, where social mobility – a measure of the life chances of children – is now the lowest in England. WeyPAW is urging local authorities and development agencies to take prompt action to ensure that employers meet all legal obligations.
* Wages crisis, child poverty, ill-health. We can do better – let’s end ‘Dorset’s shame’. This open conference takes places on Saturday 28 September, 12 midday at Safewise, Radipole Lane, Weymouth. All are welcome. See: www.weypaw.org.uk