- Thomas Colson / BI
- High street retailers Primark and Sports Direct failed to pay over 10,000 workers the national minimum wage, the UK government said.
- 260 employers were found to have underpaid 16,000 workers, and fined a total of £1.3 million.
- Rates are set to rise again in April 2018, from £7.50 per hour for those aged 25 and over to £7.83 per hour.
LONDON – Primark and Sports Direct are among the 260 employers named by the UK government for failing to pay workers the minimum wage.
The government has identified £1.7 million in back pay for 16,000 workers, the highest number identified since the scheme began in 2013, and fined 260 employers a total of £1.3 million for underpaying the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates (£7.50 per hour for workers aged 25 and over).
Among those named were high street retailers Primark, which failed to pay £231,973.12 to 9,735 workers, and Sports Direct, which failed to pay £167,036.12 to 383 workers.
“This matter relates to the historical situation in our warehouse that was widely publicised in 2016, for which we apologised at the time,” said a spokesperson for Sports Direct. “We cooperated fully with HMRC to make back payments to Sports Direct staff who were affected. We are committed to treating all our people with dignity and respect, and we pay above the National Minimum Wage.”
“Primark confirms it has paid a number of its employees in instances where HMRC deemed these employees to have received less than the National Minimum Wage. The average amount paid per employee was £23.75 and relates to a workwear policy that was changed in 2016 and also to administration costs for court orders involving a small number of staff. The company is committed to the National Minimum Wage and has apologised to the employees concerned,” a spokesperson for Primark said.
“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,” said Business Minister Margot James.
Retail, hairdressing and hospitality businesses were among the most prolific offenders in this round. Common reasons for errors included failing to pay workers travelling between jobs, deducting money from pay for uniforms and not paying for overtime.
“It is good to see that HMRC continues to target large employers who have underpaid a large number of workers, as well as cases involving only a few workers, where workers are at risk of the most serious exploitation,” said Bryan Sanderson, chairman of the Low Pay Commission.
Workers who are concerned they are not being paid the correct rates can seek advice from workplace experts Acas. In July, fees for employment tribunals – which came under strong criticism for making it more difficult for employees with legitimate grievances to seek redress – were abolished.
Since 2013, the government’s scheme has identified £8 million in back pay for 58,000 workers, with 1,500 employers fined a total of £5 million. This year, the government said, it will spend a record £25.3 million on minimum wage enforcement.
Rates are set to rise again in April 2018, to £7.83 for workers aged 25 and over.