Student bar staff at a Cambridge college were paid less than minimum wage

Emmanuel College has now paid the £3,924.75 they legally owed to students

Students who worked in the bar at Emmanuel College, Cambridge were paid less than the minimum wage for their hours.

The 47 students, who worked the bar on a voluntary basis, have since been paid the £3,924.75 for hours which were accrued between October 2015 and June 2018. Each student who worked in the non-profit bar was owed an average of £83.51, Cambridge News reports.

The college was among 524 employers named by the Government this year for failing to pay workers the national minimum wage (NMW). A spokesperson for the college said all permanent staff have been paid at least the Real Living Wage since before 2023, with student bar staff being the only exception.

The spokesperson elaborated that there was a “misunderstanding” about how the NMW legislation applied to some student bar staff who they believed worked on a voluntary basis to support the college facility.

“It had been assumed that in serving their friends and colleagues students were acting as volunteers, receiving only a small payment, with the aim of keeping costs low and supporting a shared facility,” they said.

“Once this issue was brought to the college’s attention, we worked with HMRC to resolve the matter immediately, by raising student pay and ensuring they were paid the NMW.”

Emmanuel College is one of Cambridge University’s 31 colleges, and has students ranging from undergraduate to postgraduate study.

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