Letters to the editor – July 16, 2021

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Check your wages

Sir,

Students and seasonal staff are being reminded by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to check that they are being paid the National Minimum Wage.

All workers are legally entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage. This includes temporary seasonal staff, who often work short-term contracts in bars, hotels, shops and warehouses over the summer.

Last year (2020-21) HMRC helped 155,000 workers across the UK to recover more than £16 million in pay which was due to them.

HMRC is reminding workers to check their hourly rate of pay, and to also check any deductions or unpaid working time.

The National Minimum Wage hourly rates are currently:

  • £8.91 – Age 23 or over (National Living Wage)
  • £8.36 – Age 21 to 22
  • £6.56 – Age 18 to 20
  • £4.62 – Age under 18
  • £4.30 – Apprentice.

We want to ensure that Scotland’s seasonal workers and students are being paid what they are entitled to and, as the economy reopens, help employers if they are unsure of the rules.

Workers should check their hourly rate and look out for any deductions or unpaid working time which would reduce their pay. It could take them below the minimum wage.

HMRC investigates every complaint made about the minimum wage, so whether you are selling sun cream, giving a hotel room a clean or serving a strawberry smoothie, if you think you are being short-changed you should get in touch.

Anyone not being paid what they are entitled to can complain online at www.gov.uk/minimum-wage-complaint.

If they want to speak to someone they should phone the Acas Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0300 123 1100, who may transfer the call to HMRC.

Employers can also contact the Acas Helpline for free help and advice or visit GOV.UK to find out more.

Steve Timewell, director, individuals and small business compliance, HMRC

Barbecuing from the heart

Sir,

This week it is the 25th anniversary of barbecue week and many of us will be heading outdoors to fire up the barbecue.

Foods traditionally cooked on barbecues such as burgers and sausages can be high in calories, fat and salt. We have some tips for enjoying a heart-healthy barbecue without compromising on taste.

Choose a healthy source of protein

Foods that are high in saturated fat, such as red meat, sausages, burgers, butter and hard cheese, can increase your risk of heart disease. You can cut down on saturated fat by swapping red meat, sausages and burgers by threading cubes of chicken, firm fish or tofu onto skewers with slices of pepper, courgettes, mushrooms, red onion and cherry tomatoes before grilling.

Swap white bread rolls for high-fibre alternatives

Increasing the amount of fibre in your diet can reduce your risk of heart disease. Why not switch from white bread rolls to wholegrain rolls or wholegrain pitta, brown rice or jacket potatoes.

Add some colour

Include plenty of salad and vegetables to make your barbecue colourful and nutritious. Avoid using too much salad dressing as it can be high in calories. Try rubbing a spicy marinade on pieces of courgette,  pepper, onion, corn-on-the-cob and mushrooms and grill them on the barbecue.

Healthy grilled desserts

Ditch the high-fat puddings and switch to grilled slices of pineapple, bananas, peaches, nectarines or plums.

The natural sugars will caramelise on the BBQ, giving them a lovely sweet flavour. Serve with a spoonful of thick, creamy yoghurt and sprinkle with a handful of chopped toasted nuts, such as hazelnuts or almonds.

If you would like to support Heart Research UK’s vital work into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease, please visit www.heartresearch.org.uk for inspiration on how you could help.

Dr Helen Flaherty, head of health promotion at Heart Research UK

Bygone Lochgilphead front green

Sir,

In view of the upgrading at present on Lochgilphead front green, I thought this postcard would be of interest.

It must have been taken before or at the very start of the Second World War as the railings were removed for use during the war, though I don’t think they were ever made use of.

There were also cannons on the front green, and I wonder if anyone has a photograph of them?

Avril Stewart, Lochgilphead