The government has published the latest name and shame list of companies who have failed to pay their employees the National Minimum Wage. Debenhams tops the list of 360 employers by reportedly underpaying 11,858 of their employees a total of £134,894.83. The majority of employers on this latest list are from the hospitality, retail, hairdressing and social care industries; we asked ELAS employment law consultant Emma O’Leary to take a look.
“Once again this is the largest list published and the government says they are investigating a further 1,500 cases which suggests that companies appear to still not understand the significance of ensuring their liability to pay a minimum wage is met.
“There are a large number of employers listed that failed to pay NMW to only 1 worker, so one would be forgiven for thinking that it seems quite harsh to name and shame something that may well have been as simple as administrative errors. Some companies, however, are blatantly not so innocent especially when you see one of the biggest national retailers, Debenhams, topping the list by failing to pay the National Minimum Wage to almost 12 thousand employees. No one is exempt and no one will escape – the government is very clear on this.
“Some of the excuses which have been given for underpaying workers include using tips to top up pay, docking workers’ wages to pay for their Christmas party and making staff pay for their own uniforms out of their salary; Debenhams said theirs was a ‘technical error in payroll calculations’. That might be true and in all innocence but companies need to ensure they have robust safeguards in place to avoid these errors. Other excuses might be failing to account for time travelling between care appointments or for sleep in shifts – one of the biggest issues in the care industry.
“The problem companies on this list have now is not only do they have to repay the arrears of wages owed and face potential reputational damage but they could also face financial penalties of up to £20,000 per worker.
“Bottom line? Pay the National Minimum Wage to every worker or employee as ultimately they will catch up with you…”