A Nottingham-based care charity has been ordered by the government to pay a £9,000 fine and a total of £38,000 to almost 200 workers after failing to pay them the minimum wage over a three-year period.
The charity’s minimum wage arrears of £37,592.56 owed to 184 workers was the largest single amount owed by any of those 70 employers, which had combined arrears totalling £157,000, including Carers Trust East Midlands.
The charity, which registered with the commission in 1995, has objects of relieving the stresses experienced by carers and beneficiaries. It had 319 employees and an income of £4.9m in the year to 31 March 2014, its accounts show.
The charity is named on the list as East Midlands Crossroads – Caring for Carers, but it is in the process of rebranding to Carers Trust East Midlands after the merger of the national umbrella bodies for carer support charities, Crossroads Care and the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, to become the Carers Trust.
A spokeswoman for Carers Trust East Midlands said all back pay was paid in September. She confirmed that the organisation was fined £9,000 but this was reduced to £4,500 because it was paid within 14 days.
She said: "Over the past few months we have been working closely with HM Revenue & Customs to establish our compliance with the national minimum wage regulations. The legislation is complex, in parts ambiguous and open to interpretation.
"We were unaware of our past non-compliance and worked with HMRC to identify to what extent we needed to back-pay our workforce and to ensure compliance with this complex legislation now and in the future."
The BIS statement said that it was looking into a further 100 cases of underpayment by care sector employers. A spokeswoman for BIS said she could not say how many of these were charities.
Norman Lamb, the care minister, said: "We know the 100 care companies being investigated are just the tip of the iceberg in the care sector and are absolutely committed to getting back the wages people have worked so hard for."
BIS’s statement said it was working alongside HMRC, the Department of Health and the registered charity the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services to understand the causes of non-compliance in this sector, and that the government would be increasing HMRC’s budget by a further £3m to fund more than 70 extra minimum wage compliance officers.
The national minimum wage for people aged 21 and over is £6.50 an hour.