Hotel Cleaners Win Minimum Wage Claim

In its 2010 report on the National Minimum Wage (NMW), the Low Pay Commission recommended that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) should investigate whether contract and agency cleaners in the hotel sector are receiving their entitlement under the NMW Regulations for their hours worked.

A recent case illustrates the sort of practice the measure is intended to target.

In 2009, the BBC carried out an undercover investigation into exploitation of migrant workers at two luxury hotels in London. In particular, they examined the pay of those employed by leading contract cleaning agency Hotelcare, which employs in the region of 2,000 workers at hotels in the UK. The agency cleaners were allowed just 20 minutes to clean each room. They had signed agreements stating that they would be paid the NMW hourly rate and, on average, worked more than 40 hours per week, but this was not reflected in their wages. Their payslips showed that the agency was in fact paying them according to the number of rooms cleaned each day.

Following the investigation, 13 room attendants have now been awarded back pay and damages after taking their case to the Employment Tribunal, claiming that they had been paid less than the NMW and that insufficient records were kept.

Says , “The hourly NMW rate is non-negotiable. Productivity targets cannot be used to justify paying less than the legal rate and the rates apply equally to migrant workers. Employers are required to keep adequate records to show that they are paying workers at least the NMW.”

As announced last year, when the new NMW rates come into force on 1 October 2010, the adult rate is extended to 21-year-olds. The new rates are as follows:

  • The adult hourly rate will increase from £5.80 to £5.93;
  • The development rate (which will cover workers aged 18-20 years) will increase from £4.83 to £4.92; and
  • The rate for workers aged 16 and 17 will increase from £3.57 to £3.64.

In addition, an apprentice minimum wage of £2.50 per hour is introduced. The new rate will apply to those apprentices who are under 19 and those who are aged 19 and over but in the first year of their apprenticeship.

Contact us if you would like advice to ensure your pay arrangements do not breach the NMW legislation.

© , October 2010

Please contact:

Emmanuelle Ries - Partner

DD +44 (0)20 7553 9938

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