row has broken out over implementing the new Minimum Wage legislation, due to come in on 1
Bosses in Coventry and Warwickshire are protesting that they have only three weeks to
get to grips with 112 pages of 'guidance' from the government - and that much of it is
"Although the Act received the Royal Assent at the end of July, the guidance was
only issued last Thursday," said a spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce, Training
"Apart from the length of the rules, much of it is, frankly, gobbledegook."
The Chamber is not calling for the minimum wage of £3.60 to be delayed.
In fact president Peter Howden is known to consider that anyone paying less is guilty
of "outrageous exploitation".
He is also concerned that business should not be seen to be prevaricating to put off
the start date-and the vast majority of Chamber members say they are already paying more
than the new minimum.
"However we are calling for three months grace to get to grips with these complex
rules," the Chamber spokesman added.
"Indeed we want to see the principle of four months being allowed between a
regulation which affects business gaining approval and coming into force."
As it stands, any business failing to keep proper records could be heavily fined.
The Chamber concedes that the government has dropped a demand for full details of
employees' new entitlements to be in every pay packet issued. Employers said this would
create a mountain of 2,300 tons of paper a year.
But they still have to keep sufficient records to prove that the right rate is being
Because this is also affected by the number of hours worked, many employers face having
to keeping records of the hours worked for the first time. And the records have to be kept
for three years.
They also have to decide whether a travelling salesman staying in a hotel is deemed to
be working for 24 hours a day, or not.
The DTI has replied that it could not issue the guidelines until the Act received full
parliamentary approval last Thursday and that "the main elements of the measures have
been well publicised".
"That is pushing the problems of parliamentary time-partly caused by the welter of
new legislation-on to business," The Chamber spokesman said.
"In addition the DTI guidelines stress that they are issued for 'general guidance'
only, and should not be relied upon as a complete and authoritative statement of law.
"Add to that the gobbledegook and employers are throwing up their hands in horror
at the thought of getting it all right in less than three weeks."