Home UK News WH Smith, M&S, and Argos, among companies ‘failing to pay minimum wage’ in Government ‘name and shame’ publication

WH Smith, M&S, and Argos, among companies ‘failing to pay minimum wage’ in Government ‘name and shame’ publication

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UK fines companies failing to pay minimum wage

The government has “named and shamed” retail giants WH Smith, Marks & Spencer, and Argos for violating the minimum wage law.

Following examinations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs dating back to 2017, about £5 million was discovered to be outstanding to around 63,000 workers.

Named employers were ordered to repay their debts and were fined about £7 million.

According to HMRC, the worst offender was high street store WH Smith, which failed to pay almost £1m to 17,607 workers.

The retailer attributed this to an oversight in its company uniform policy.

A spokesman for WH Smith said: “Following a review with HMRC in 2019, and in common with a number of retailers, it was brought to our attention that we had misinterpreted how the statutory wage regulations were applied to our uniform policy for staff working in our stores.

“This was a genuine error and it was rectified immediately with all colleagues reimbursed in 2019.”

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, chairman of the Low Pay Commission, said: “Regular naming rounds should be a useful tool in raising awareness of underpayment and helping to protect minimum wage workers.”

Lloyds Pharmacy was named as another employer at fault by the government, with the company failing to pay £903,307 to 7,9116 employees.

In response, an M&S spokesman said: “Like many other organisations, M&S is only named in the list because of an unintentional technical issue from over four years ago.

“This happened simply because temporary colleagues were not paid within the strict time periods specified in the national minimum wage regulations and was remedied as soon as we became aware of the issue.

“Our minimum hourly pay has never been below the national minimum wage, it is currently above it and no colleagues were ever underpaid because of this.”

Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s-owned store Argos was cited for failing to pay over 10,000 employees £480,093.

A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “Back in 2018, a payroll error was identified which affected some Argos store colleagues and drivers and dated back to 2012, before Sainsbury’s acquisition of Argos.

“We launched an immediate investigation, working alongside HMRC, and put this right at the time.

“Since then we have completed the integration of Argos onto Sainsbury’s systems which will prevent this from happening again.”

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