WHSmith, Marks and Spencer and Argos fail to pay minimum wage

WHSmith Marks and Spencer ArgosWHSmith, Marks and Spencer, and Argos are among more than 200 employers which have been named by government for failing to pay their lowest-paid staff the minimum wage.

Investigations by His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found that 202 employers failed to pay their workers almost £5 million in a breach of national minimum wage law, equating to around 63,000 employees. The results found that 39% of the named employers deducted pay from workers’ wages and failed to pay staff correctly for their working time, while 21% paid the incorrect apprenticeship rate.

Other named employers include Chanel, Lloyds Pharmacy, Loganair, Dune Group and Arnold Clark. They have all since paid back what they owe to staff and also faced financial penalties.

The government has published advice about breaches and the steps to take to make sure workers are paid correctly. It stated that anyone entitled to be paid the minimum wage should receive it, and robust enforcement action will be taken against those that do not pay their workforce appropriately.

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Kevin Hollinrake, minister for enterprise, markets and small business, 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.”

Bryan Sanderson, chair of the Low Pay Commission, added: “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.”