A charity that provides horse riding experiences for disabled and disadvantaged people has been forced to pay more than £27,000 to six staff because it broke minimum wage rules - but the charity says it was caught by a technicality.
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills said that Tyne & Wear Riding for the Disabled Association, which trades as Washing Riding Centre, did not pay £27,151.79 to six workers.
The organisation is one of four charities to appear on today’s list of 115 employers who had not paid the national minimum wage.
The charity, which has an annual income of around £200,000, said had been penalised because it provided additional training packages for people who had been employed as apprentices and deducted the cost from their wage slips.
It has now appointed a human resources company to help it in the future.
In a statement the charity said: “The fine we have had to pay to HMRC has had a significant impact on the services we provide for the community resulting in a refocusing of those services.”
The charity would not reveal how much the fine was but did say that the combination of repaying apprentices and the fine had “drained most of our resources” and that the charity was no longer able to offer apprentices additional riding lessons or stable management training as it had done previously.
Stoke College Educational Trust was eighth in the list, neglecting to pay £12,094.83 to seven workers. The North Tyneside Learing Trust, known as Woodlawn Special School, did not pay £4,312.19 to one worker. The Young Men’s Christian Association in Bargoed neglected to pay £1,372.12 to one worker.
Civil Society News has contacted all three charities for comment but had received no response at the time of publication.
Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back the arrears of wages at the current minimum wage and also face a penalty fine of up to £20,000. In serious cases they can be prosecuted.
From October 2013 the government revised the scheme so that it was easier to name and shame those who had broken the law. Employers who receive a Notice of Underpayment will be named unless there is “exceptional criteria” or the amount is under £100.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills releases lists when it has a substantial number and all those on the list have repaid the mone, so the timeframe for how long the organisations were in breach of the law varies across the list.