Over 350 British companies which are failing to pay their workers the national minimum wage have been publicly outed in a government report.
In the longest-ever list of the minimum and living wage offenders, the Business Department revealed that more than 15,500 workers are being underpaid a combined total of around £1 million (US$1.25 million) by UK-based businesses.
The report was produced as part of the “naming and shaming” policy adopted by the government in 2013 to force business to observe the minimum wage laws.
Employers in hairdressing, retail and hospitality were identified as the biggest offenders.
The list also includes a number of well-known names like Lloyds Pharmacy and Subway. Retail giant Debenhams was placed at the top of the government’s shaming list.
Debenhams, which owes around £135,000 to its employees, blamed a technical error in its payroll calculations.
Other excuses for failing to comply with the minimum wage legislation included the use of tipping as a substitute for actual pay, deductions from wages to pay for office parties and making employees buy their own uniforms.
Overall, the violators were fined more than £800,000.
However, the TUC, Britain’s labor protection watchdog, argued that this is not adequate to deter big businesses. The TUC urged higher fines and even prosecutions of the largest offenders.
Frances O’Grady, the head of the TUC, said: “This should be a wake-up call for employers who value their reputation. If you cheat your staff out of the minimum wage you will be named and shamed.”
Not surprised #Debenhams have been underpaying staff. I did the same 8 hours there every week & they got my pay wrong every week.
— ilona (@Ilona_Reynolds) 16 February 2017
In fact, the shaming list is likely to expand. There are 1,500 additional cases under investigation by HM Revenue and Customs, while a report by the Office for National Statistics found that about 362,000 jobs did not pay the minimum wage in April 2016.
The UK’s national minimum wage is £6.95 an hour for workers from 21 to 24 years old and £5.55 for 18 to 20-year-olds. Workers over 25 are entitled to the national living wage, which is £7.20 per hour.