The government has released the latest list which names and shames employers who have failed to pay their employees the National Minimum Wage. The list of some 260 companies comprises 16,000 workers who have been underpaid by a total of £1.7 million. Topping the list this time is The Best Connection Group Ltd, who failed to pay 2558 of their workers a total of £469,273.83. Primark and Sports Direct were also named among the top five offenders.
Since 2013, the scheme has identified £8 million in back pay for 58,000 workers. 1,500 employers have been fined a total of £5 million for breaking the law and not paying their workers correctly. The government’s Business Minister Margot James comment: "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."
Jacob Demeza-Wilkinson, employment law consultant for the ELAS Group said the report was “very concerning” especially with regard to Sports Direct.
“Bearing in mind that they have already been subject to considerable bad publicity following findings relating to working conditions for their staff, it is surprising to find that they don't seem to have made full efforts to rectify all the issues surrounding them as an employer,” said Jacob. "This also sends a clear message to all employers across the UK. There is now a public list naming and shaming those companies that pay their staff under the National Minimum Wage, and as can be seen from recent news stories, this can have a particularly damaging effect on a company's standing in the eyes of the general public. Not only will underpaying staff eventually come back to bite you, meaning the full underpaid amounts need to be paid in any event, but it will also lead to poor publicity, which for a number of businesses, can be fatal.”
Demeza-Wilkinson believes it is not worth companies trying to cut corners since the risks are too great.
"There's also an interesting issue raised regarding Primark's employees,” he adds. “A considerable number were said to have been underpaid as they had been asked to purchase their own uniform. It is not always immediately clear what type of deductions or charges can affect an employee's salary for the purposes of NMW calculations. It is therefore very important if you are unsure to take advice before making any deductions or asking staff to purchase compulsory items for their role, as you could then find yourselves in the same position as Primark."
Currently, the National Minimum Wage is:
•National Living Wage (25 years and over) - £7.50 per hour
•21-24 year olds - £7.05 per hour
•18-20 year olds - £5.60 per hour
•16-17 year olds - £4.05 per hour
•Apprentice rate - £3.50 per hour **applicable to apprentices aged 16-18 and those aged 19 years and over who are in their first year of apprenticeship. All other apprentices are entitled to the NMW for their age
On 1 April 2018 the rates will rise to:
•National Living Wage (25 years and over) - £7.83 per hour
•21-24 year olds - £7.38 per hour
•18-20 year olds - £5.90 per hour
•16-17 year olds - £4.20 per hour
•Apprentice rate - £3.70 per hour **as above