17 February 2017
Household names including Debenhams and Argos have been “named and shamed” this week for failing to pay the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
Debenhams topped the government’s list of 359 employers who have broken minimum wage law after it failed to pay nearly £135,000 to almost £12,000 workers.
This makes it by far the largest evader of the NMW, accounting for a huge proportion of the total £994,685 owed to 15,513 workers of the employers listed. The company said the underpayment was due to a technical error in its payroll processes.
The government reported that hairdressing, hospitality and retail sectors were the worst offenders, with some trying to excuse themselves for breaking the law by saying tips from customers would top-up their workers’ salaries, they had had to dock wages to pay for a Christmas party, and that staff had to pay for their own uniforms.
HMRC is working to recover arrears for the workers affected while doling out a total of £800,000 in fines to employers.
Argos narrowly escaped the list, but was shamed in the national newspapers just a day later after it was fined £1.5m for underpaying 37,000 workers by forcing them to attend staff briefings and security searches outside of their hours. The company will pay out £2.4 million to reimburse the workers affected.