Child care employers who pay below the minimum wage will be among those targeted with a new regime of penalties under government proposals.
The Department of Trade and Industry has identified the child care sector as one of several “problem” sectors where employers are failing to adhere to the minimum wage.
In a consultation published this week, Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling proposed options including fixed penalty fines linked to the number of underpaid workers.
The minimum wage, first introduced in April 1999, is currently £5.32 a week and rises to £5.52 in October. Until now, employers have not been punished for underpaying workers as long as they pay up when they are caught.
In March this year, a survey by charity Fostering Network found that three-quarters of foster carers were paid less than the minimum wage.
A government report last year also found that a “worrying” number of employment providers for people with learning disabilities were paying less than the minimum wage.
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