A Southampton car wash owner is the first employer in Hampshire to be prosecuted for National Minimum Wage offences, after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).Kreshnik Dida, 29, proprietor of Southampton Car Wash Ltd, trading as Dida Hand Car Wash, is believed to have underpaid workers by £21,000 over an 11-month period.

Colin Spinks, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“Failing to pay the National Minimum Wage is not only unfair but also illegal, and Dida now has a criminal record. It doesn’t matter how big or small an employer is, it is their responsibility to pay the correct wage to their staff. HMRC won’t hesitate to take strong action – including opening a criminal investigation – against those who flout the law.

“In the year to 31 March 2016, HMRC delivered unprecedented pay arrears in excess of £10 million for more than 58,000 workers. We continue to take action to ensure ripped-off workers are repaid what they are entitled to receive under the law. Anyone who is concerned they are not receiving the National Minimum Wage can contact ACAS in confidence on 0300 123 1100.”

Dida was sentenced after a three day trial at Southampton Crown Court. Jurors took an hour to find him guilty of failing to pay at least the National Minimum Wage to 11 workers between July 2013 and May 2014, and failing to keep proper records.

He must pay a £14,000 fine within 28 days, or face a possible 12 month jail term. Dida was also ordered to pay a total of £4,400 in compensation to workers who have been traced by HMRC, plus £2,000 in court costs.

Upon sentencing Master RH Davison, said:

“You were convicted on strong evidence from the prosecution of not paying National Minimum Wage and not keeping records of wages, and you deliberately exploited vulnerable employees.”