Posted: Fri 23rd Jun 2023
The government has publicly named 202 businesses that failed to pay the minimum wage to the lowest paid workers.
The businesses were found to have failed to pay their workers almost £5m to around 63,000 workers during HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigations between 2017 and 2019.
The worst offenders were big high street retailers. At the top of the list was WH Smith which failed to pay £1,017,693.36 to 17,607 employees, followed by:
Lloyds Pharmacy which failed to pay £903,307.47 to 7,916 workers.
Marks and Spencer which failed to pay £578,390.79 to 5,363 employees.
Argos which failed to pay £480,093.58 to 10,399 members of staff.
All three businesses said the non-payments were unintentional and the mistakes have been dealt with.
Small business minister Kevin Hollinrake said:
"Paying the legal minimum wage is non-negotiable and all businesses, whatever their size, should know better than to short-change hard-working staff.
"Most businesses do the right thing and look after their employees, but we’re sending a clear message to the minority who ignore the law: pay your staff properly or you’ll face the consequences."
The government said the named employees underpaid workers in the following ways:
39% of employers deducted pay from workers' wages.
39% of employers failed to pay workers correctly for their working time.
21% of employers paid the incorrect apprenticeship rate.
Bryan Sanderson, chair of the Low Pay Commission, said:
"The minimum wage acts as a guarantee to ensure all workers without exception receive a decent minimum standard of pay. Where employers break the law, they not only do a disservice to their staff but also undermine fair competition between businesses.
"Regular naming rounds should be a useful tool in raising awareness of underpayment and helping to protect minimum wage workers."
Since 2015, the government has ordered employers to repay over £100m to 1 million workers.
What are the National Mininum Wage rules?
The National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) apply to all areas of the UK.
The hourly rates change every April. In April 2023 the rates were increased by 9.4%.
The current rates for the National Living Wage (for those aged 23 and over) and the National Minimum Wage (for those of at least school leaving age) are as follows:
23 and over: £10.42
Under 18: £5.28
Employers can check if an employee qualifies for NMW or NLW using government guidance.
As well as naming the employers who breached the rules, the government published additional advice about non-payments.
"Employers are responsible for recognising and recording all working time for their workers. It is important to ensure that all working time is considered for minimum wage purposes when paying staff.
"This can include times when the individual is required to be at work, or when they are required to be available at or near a place of work. Simply paying a worker's rota' or 'contracted' hours may not suffice and may lead to underpayment."
Common causes of unpaid working time are:
Compulsory team meetings
Time spent travelling
Time spent training
'Sleep in' shifts