Around 350 businesses in Britain have been named and shamed by the Government for underpaying thousands of workers a total of nearly £1m.
It is the biggest ever list of the national minimum wage and living wage offenders produced by the Business Department since the policy of “naming and shaming” was announced in 2013.
Excuses for underpaying workers included using tips to top up pay, docking wages to pay for Christmas parties, and making staff pay for their own uniforms.
Across the UK, 360 companies underpaid their employees a total of £995,233, with employers in the hairdressing, hospitality and retail sectors the most prolific offenders.
Among the offenders high street retailer Debenhams was accused of failing to pay almost £135,000 to just under 12,000 workers. The company said it made a technical error in its payroll calculations, which resulted in an average underpayment of around £10 per person to affected workers in 2015.
Business minister Margot James said: “Every worker in the UK is entitled to at least the national minimum or living wage and this government will ensure they get it.
“That is why we have named and shamed more than 350 employers who failed to pay the legal minimum, sending the clear message to employers that minimum wage abuses will not go unpunished.”
The Business Department added that more than 1,500 cases are being worked on by HM Revenue and Customs, with more firms set to be named.
Unions welcomed the announcement, but called for more prosecutions – there have been 13 since 2007.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This should be a wake-up call for employers who value their reputation. If you cheat your staff out of the minimum wage you will be named and shamed.
The national minimum hourly rate ranges from £3.40 for apprentices and £4 for under 18s to £7.20 for people aged 25 and over.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, said: “It is frankly disgraceful that a record number of employers have failed to pay their workers the basic minimum wage and hopefully the repercussions of being publicly named and shamed will act as a deterrent for other unscrupulous employers.
“However, the fact remains that the current so-called National Living Wage is that in name only. The Chancellor even announced a cut in the rate at the Autumn Statement last year, leaving 2.7 million people over £1,300 worse off by 2020.”Reuse content