Nearly 180 employers have been “named and shamed” by the UK Government for failing to pay thousands of hard-up workers at least the minimum wage, as the Business Minister threatened to fine cheats up to 200% of wages owed.
179 employers failed to pay 9,000 minimum wage workers by £1.1 million over the last year, resulting in fines totaling £1.3 million and their businesses named on a publicly available list of unscrupulous employers.
The most prolific offenders were retailers, hospitality businesses and hairdressers, including households names such as Wagamama and Marriott Hotels. The full list can be viewed on the Government’s website.
Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “The world of work is changing and we have set out our plans to give millions of workers enhanced rights to ensure everyone is paid and treated fairly in the workplace.
“There are no excuses for short-changing workers. This is an absolute red line for this government and employers who cross it will get caught – not only are they forced to pay back every penny but they are also fined up to 200% of wages owed.
“Today’s naming round serves as a sharp reminder to employers to get their house in order ahead of minimum wage rate rises on 1 April.”
Bryan Sanderson, Chairman of the Low Pay Commission (LPC), said: “As the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates rise on 1 April, it is vital that workers understand their rights, and employers their obligations.
“The Low Pay Commission is pleased to see the government maintaining the momentum of its minimum wage enforcement.
“The recent announcement that all workers will have a right to payslips stating the hours they have worked – an idea originally proposed by the LPC – is a positive step.”
Legal changes mean up to 300,000 UK workers will now be entitled to a wage slip, something they would not have received before the changes. For those paid by the hour, payslips will also have to include how many hours the worker is paid for, making it easier to workers to understand and challenge if it is wrong.
More than 1,700 employers have been named and shamed by the UK Government since the policy began in 2013, with more than £9 million in unpaid wages recovered for around 67,000 minimum wage workers.
However, not everyone is satisfied with the efforts of the UK Government in taking on and deterring minimum wage dodgers and argue much more needs to be done to clampdown on those responsible. Financial penalties of up to 200% of arrears are capped at £20,000 per worker, meaning the worst offenders may escape full justice.
Rebecca Long Bailey MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “It is deplorable that some employers are still skirting around the law by not paying their workers the full national minimum wage.
“The Government is failing to crack down on businesses that are breaking the law and failing to stand up for underpaid workers across the country. It’s grossly unfair to workers but also unfair to the businesses who play by the rules.
“The next Labour Government will increase prosecutions of employers evading the minimum wage and introduce a Real Living Wage of £10 an hour.”
Last year, GMB General Secretary Tim Roache said naming and shaming employers doesn’t go far enough and called on the UK Government to “get serious and prosecute employers who rob working people of what they’re owed”.
Mr Roache said: “These companies rake in millions of pounds in profit yet seemingly think it’s ok to cheat workers who are already paid a pittance out of the wages they are legally entitled to. It absolutely stinks.
“It’s impossible to feed and clothe your family and put a roof over their head on the minimum wage, without fat cat bosses trying to scam you out the pay you’ve worked hard for.
“Don’t get me wrong – of course it’s a good thing these companies are being forced to pay workers, and that they’re publicly being named and shamed – but it’s clearly not a deterrent.
“If companies think they can make some extra cash with no real sanction, we’ve seen today that it’s exactly what they’ll do.
“The Government should get serious and prosecute employers who rob working people of what they’re owed, otherwise this will happen time and time again.”