Mrs Teresa Aguda, the proprietor of Rascals Day Nursery Ltd. in Walthamstow, pleaded guilty to the charge of obstruction, which is an offence under the National Minimum Wage Act. Mrs Aguda prevented HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) compliance officers from accessing her staff records when they were attempting to establish whether nursery workers received the National Minimum Wage.
The case was brought by the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office (RCPO).
The judge commented that Mrs Aguda had “demonstrated a clear and deliberate intent to obstruct officers and this was a scandalous breach of the National Minimum Wage legislation.”
Andy Millican, Criminal Investigation Team Leader for HMRC 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.”
The six potential criminal offences under section 31 of the National Minimum Wage Act are:
refusing or wilfully neglecting to pay the National Minimum Wage;
failing to keep or preserve records;
knowingly causing or allowing a false entry in records;
producing or furnishing false records or information;
delaying or obstructing a compliance officer; and
refusing or neglecting to answer any questions or to produce documents for a compliance officer.
Each criminal offence carries a maximum £5,000 fine and a criminal record.
The National Minimum Wage for workers aged 22 and over was increased to £5.52 per hour on 1 October 2007. The development rate for 18- to 21-year-olds is now £4.60 an hour and the rate for 16- to 17-year-olds is £3.40.