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Employers ‘named & shamed’ after underpaying by £1.7m

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
A record 16,000 workers have been underpaid by £1.7m, the government has revealed as part of its latest ‘name and shame’ list.

A total of 260 employers have been revealed as underpaying minimum wage rates for their workers.

These companies have been fined £1.3m for the failings.

Retail, hospital and hairdressing businesses were the most frequent offenders. But big name companies were also among those underpaying staff: Primark in Reading underpaid 9,735 workers by £231,973, Sports Direct underpaid 383 workers a total of £167,036.24 and The Best Connection Group, which supplied temporary staff to Sports Direct, was found to underpay 2,558 workers by £469,273.83.

You can see the full list of employers here.

Business minister, Margot James, said: “There is no excuse for not paying staff the wages they’re entitled to and the government will come down hard on businesses that break the rules.

“That’s why today we are naming hundreds of employers who have been short changing their workers; and to ensure there are consequences for their wallets as well as their reputation, we’ve levied millions in back pay and fines.”

Bryan Sanderson, chairman of the Low Pay Commission, said: “It is good to see that HMRC continues to target large employers who have underpaid a large number of workers, as well as cases involving only a few workers, where workers are at risk of the most serious exploitation. It is imperative that the government keeps up the pressure on all employers who commit breaches of minimum wage law.”

If workers are concerned they are not being paid the correct rates then they can seek advice from workplace experts Acas.

Since 2013, the government has identified £8m in back pay for 58,000 workers, with 1,500 employers fined a total of £5m.

Minimum wage

The National Living Wage (NLW) rate for those aged 25+ currently stands at £7.50 an hour, but it will rise 4.4% to £7.83 from April 2018, adding £600 to annual incomes for full-time workers.

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) for those aged under 25, will rise in April also:

  • 21-24-year-olds: £7.38 per hour (up from £7.05 per hour)
  • 18-20-year-olds: £5.90 per hour (up from £5.60 per hour)
  • 16 and 17-year-olds: £4.20 per hour (up from £4.05 per hour)
  • Apprentices (aged under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship): £3.70 per hour (up from £3.50 per hour).

What do the employers say?

A Primark spokesperson, said: “Following a routine audit by HMRC, Primark confirms it has paid a number of its employees in instances where HMRC deemed these employees to have received less than the National Minimum Wage. The average amount paid per employee was £23.75 and relates to a workwear policy that was changed in 2016 and also to administration costs for court orders involving a small number of staff.

“The company is committed to the National Minimum Wage and has apologised to the employees concerned.  It has also reviewed its procedures in order to avoid this situation re-occurring.”

A spokesperson for Sports Direct, said: “This matter relates to the historical situation in our warehouse that was widely publicised in 2016, for which we apologised at the time. We co-operated fully with HMRC to make back payments to Sports Direct staff who were affected. We are committed to treating all our people with dignity and respect, and we pay above the National Minimum Wage.”

A spokesperson for The Best Connection Group Ltd, said appearance on the list concerns the underpayment of a number of temporary workers supplied to Sports Direct International (SDI) to work at its Derbyshire warehouse.

“TBC paid its temps on the basis of the time records supplied by SDI. It operated so that a worker who clocked in less than 15 minutes late was nonetheless treated for pay purposes as if they had been 15 minutes late and their time was often under recorded.

“TBC is a responsible employer that has been in business for over 26 years. The TBC Group supplies some 18,000 workers from 82 offices across the UK. It is obviously disappointed that BEIS considered it appropriate to publicly name TBC at this time when the SDI investigation was effectively concluded over a year ago and at that time had already been the subject of a great deal of publicity. All of the 2558 workers underpaid were working at the Shirebrook premises for SDI.”

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