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Waterstones and Matalan among employers shamed for not paying minimum wage

Written by: Emma Lunn
The government has named and shamed more than 200 firms for falling short of paying staff the minimum wage – others on the list include Hampshire County Council and Hays Recruitment.

Employers on the list have been ordered to repay workers and face penalties of nearly £2m after breaches left about 12,000 workers out of pocket.

Companies named today range from multinational businesses and large high street names to SMEs and sole traders, in what the government says is ‘a clear message that no employer is exempt from paying their workers the statutory minimum wage’.

These businesses have since had to pay back what they owe to staff and also face significant financial penalties of up to 200% of what was owed, which are paid to the government. The investigations by HMRC concluded between 2014 and 2019.

Paul Scully, minister for labour markets, said: “We want workers to know that we’re on their side and they must be treated fairly by their employers, which is why paying the legal minimum wage should be non-negotiable for businesses.

“Today’s 208 businesses, whatever their size, should know better than to short-change hard-working employees, regardless of whether it was intentional or not. With Christmas fast approaching, it’s more important than ever that cash is not withheld from the pockets of workers. So don’t be a scrooge – pay your staff properly.”

The employers named today previously underpaid workers in the following ways:

  • Deductions that reduce minimum wage pay, for example workers out of pocket to comply with the dress code (37%)
  • Unpaid working time such as mandatory training, trial shifts or travel time (29%)
  • Failing to pay the correct rate to apprentices (16%)
  • Not increasing national minimum wage pay in line with government rises, or paying the wrong minimum wage rate, for example paying a 23-year-old the 21 to 22-year-old rate (11%)

The government has recently announced a rise to the National Living Wage from April 2022. This will lead to a pay rise for some of the lowest paid workers in the UK, with workers on the National Living Wage seeing a 6.6% increase to £9.50 an hour.

The government says that whilst not all minimum wage underpayments are intentional, there is no excuse for underpaying workers.

Bryan Sanderson, chair of the Low Pay Commission, said: “The minimum wage is a success story welcomed by employees and employers alike, but it only works if everyone without exception obeys the law. We hope this latest naming round can continue to raise awareness of the most common mistakes businesses make and help protect low-paid workers from unfair treatment.”

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