If an employee leaves without giving me the correct notice, can I deduct the difference from wages owed?

No. This would be an unlawful deduction from wages. An employee is entitled to receive pay for work done. However, if you can show that you have suffered financial loss as a result of the employee not working their full notice period, you could pursue a breach of contract claim in the County/High Courts.

If an employee gives more notice than they are required to give according to their contract, can you require them to leave earlier?

No, if an employee decides to bring the employment relationship to an end they candictate the date on which that termination will happen. The contractual notice period is simply the minimum amount of notice the employee should give. If you want the employee to leave earlier, you will still need to pay them up to and including the termination date they gave you.

What changes have been made to the national minimum wage ?

With effect from 1 October 2010 the adult rate (21 and over) has increased to £5.93; the Development rate (18-20) is now £4.92; and the Young workers (under 18 who are above comprehensive school age who are not apprentices will receive a rate of £3.64 per hour.

The Government has also introduced a minimum wage for apprentices of £2.50 which will apply to apprentices under 19 or 19 and over in their first year of apprenticeship.

Can I count my employees' tips or commission towards paying the national minimum wage?

Tips, service charges, gratuities and cover charges cannot be used to make up the national minimum wage. This is the same for benefits in kind (other than accommodation) e.g meals, luncheon vouchers and medical insurance. Commission, however, can count towards the minimum wage.

What happens if my employee does not earn enough commission to top up his basic salary to cover the national minimum wage rate?

Workers do not have to be paid the minimum wage for each hour worked, but they must be paid the minimum wage, on average, for the time worked in a pay reference period i.e monthly/weekly pay period.

It’s not always possible to calculate the earnings in time to get the commission paid into the pay packet for the pay reference period, but the money will still be counted in that period for calculating whether the minimum wage has been paid or not. It must however be received in the next period. You will be responsible for making up the employee’s pay to at least the minimum wage where there is a shortfall.

If an employee asks to take holiday during their sickness absence but is not paid for it, can they bring a claim?

Yes. If the employee requests holiday while they are off sick but you fail to pay it they can make one of two claims. The first is a claim under the Working Time Regs which would have to be made within 3 months of the holiday requested and would only cover that particular episode of unpaid holiday. The second is an unlawful deduction of wages claim which must be made within 3 months of the holiday requested but could cover a series of episodes of unpaid holiday going back as far as 6 years.