HR · 9 March 2018

Football clubs and high street chains named among 179 underpaying employers

Restaurant chain Wagamama topped the list of underpaying employers

Hundreds of UK employers, ranging from Premier League football clubs to 200-year old clockmakers, have been named and shamed by the government for failing to pay staff a proper minimum wage.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has released a list of 179 employers who together have underpaid more than 9,000 minimum wage workers by £1.1m.

The list includes restaurant operator Wagamama, Marriott Hotels, Karen Millen Fashions, Stoke City Football Club and Edinburgh based James Ritchie Clocks, which was established in 1809.

View the full list of underpaying employers on GOV.UK

As well a recovering the backpay for 9,200 workers the government also fined the employers a total of £1.3m in penalties for breaking national minimum wage laws. The most “prolific offenders” were retailers, hospitality businesses and hairdressers.

Since 2013, the scheme has identified more than £9m in back pay for around 67,000 workers, with more than 1,700 employers fined a total of £6.3m.

Commenting on the rankings, small business minister Andrew Griffiths said underpaying employers needed to “get their house in order”.

He said: “The world of work is changing, and we have set out our plans to give millions of workers enhanced rights to ensure everyone is paid and treated fairly in the workplace. There are no excuses for short-changing workers.

“This is an absolute red line for this government and employers who cross it will get caught – not only are they forced to pay back every penny, but they are also fined up to 200 per cent of wages owed.”

The list comes ahead of the next rate rise on 1 April, when the National Living Wage will go up from £7.50 to £7.83 per hour. Apprentices under the age of 19 and those in the first year of their apprenticeship will benefit from a record 5.7 per cent rise.

National Living Wage rises in April 2018

  • Aged 25 and over: £7.50 to £7.83
  • 21 to 24-year olds: £7.05 to £7.38
  • 18 to 20-year olds: £5.60 to £5.90
  • 16 to 17-year olds: £4.05 to £4.20

BEIS is set to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the new rates, and is encouraging workers to raise underpayment with their employer.

Bryan Sanderson, Chairman of the Low Pay Commission (LPC), said: “As the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates rise on 1 April, it is vital that workers understand their rights, and employers their obligations.”

Following the list’s publication, Wagamama shared a statement on Twitter to address its record. The restaurant claimed it was unaware of uniform regulations that require employers to fund any items staff are asked to wear in the workplace.

Wagamama said: “This was an inadvertent misunderstanding of how the minimum wage regulations apply to uniforms and as soon as we were made aware of this in 2016 we acted immediately to correct the position.

Marriott said it was committed to paying the National Minimum Wage.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

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