Hundreds of companies in the UK have been paying staff below the national minimum wage or the national living wage, the UK Government revealed on Wednesday.
Debenhams, Subway, Lloyds Pharmacy and the Co-op are among 359 businesses “named and shamed” by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy for underpaying 15,513 workers a total of £994,685.
HMRC recovered arrears for the workers and fined the employers around £800,000.
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.”
Employers in the hairdressing, hospitality and retail sectors were said to be the most prolific offenders.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady described the list of businesses as “a wake-up call for employers who value their reputation” and called for prosecutions and higher fines for the most serious offenders, especially those that deliberately flout the law.
“Minimum wage dodgers must have nowhere to hide,” she added. “We need to see strong unions in every workplace to stop these abuses from happening.”
The Office for National Statistics has calculated that 362,000 jobs did not pay the national minimum wage or national living wage in April 2016, representing around 1.3% of all UK employee jobs.
Last month, the Government released a list of some of the strangest excuses given by employers for not paying the national minimum wage. They included: “She doesn’t deserve the National Minimum Wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors,” and “My workers are often just on standby when there are no customers in the shop; I only pay them for when they’re actually serving someone.”
However, the business minister said that there is “no excuse” for not paying staff properly.
From 1 April 2017 the national minimum rates of pay in the UK will be increased. The national living wage rate for employees aged 25 years and over will go up to £7.50 per hour. The national minimum wage for 21 to 24 year olds will rise to £7.05 per hour; for 18 to 20 year olds to £5.60 per hour; and for 16 to 17 year olds to £4.05 per hour. The apprentice rate will increase to £3.50 per hour.