Working Theory

by Michael Reed


I do employment law for the Free Representation Unit.


michael at


I can't feel shame, I've dissolved

13 June 2014

On 8th June 2014 BIS named and shamed another 25 employers for failing to pay their employees the National Minimum Wage.

I idly wondered how effective this might be in publicising the identity of employers. So I started googling the names.

It turns out that they’re rather well publicised. Even on a quick search I turned up articles from the Independent; Sky News; the Telegraph and the BBC. And a number of local papers followed up the offenders in their area.

Then I wondered about the companies being shamed and started looking them up on Companies House.

Of the 11 companies named, three have been dissolved. Which rather undermines the point of naming them in the first place.

I wonder if, at least in relation to dissolved companies, directors should be named and shamed as well. After all, they’re legally responsible for running the company.

The dates of dissolution are also interesting:

Assuming that these companies weren’t employing people after they were dissolved, it means they’re being named many years later. And it’s hard to know just how many years. It seems unlikely that HMRC pounced, in all three cases, only moments before they dissolved.

We can’t tell if the rest of the list is similarly aged. I hope it isn’t. Part of the point of naming and shaming must be to put pressure on the employer to change and to warn potential employees there might be a problem. The process is much less effective if it takes many years for the information to come out.

And, if an employer has made a mistake and cleaned up its act, it seems unfair to rake up the past many years later.

For more on the naming and shames scheme, see Richard Dunstan’s post on Hard Labour.

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