French Connection, Foot Locker and Conde Nast named and shamed for underpaying workers

Initiated in October 2013 as a way of shaming employers into complying with minimum wage rules, 48 new businesses have been identified. The biggest underpayer (in terms of single monetary value) is Glasgow-based G1 Venues, which failed to pay 45,124 to 2895 employees.

Moving down the list, clothing and accessories retailer French Connection neglected to pay 367 a combined £16,436 – which works out at £45.15 per employee. Although Tony & Guy only had one worker it failed to pay the National Minimum Wage to, that particular staff member was short changed by £1,031.12.

Another employer in the same position was The Conde Nast Publications, which neglected to pay £745.48 to one worker, while 99p stores held back £633.39 from 11 employees.

According to the government, the companies, in industries ranging from fashion to automotive, owe a combined £162,000. This means that the naming and shaming exercise has identified arrears of £635,000 stemming from 201 employers, and brought about penalties of over £248,000.

Business minister Jo Swinson said: “There’s no excuse for companies that don’t pay staff the wages they’re entitled to – whether by wilfully break-in the law, or making irresponsible mistakes.

“The government is protecting workers by cracking down on employers who ignore minimum wage rules. In addition to naming and shaming, we’re increased the penalty fines and boosted the resources averrable to investigate non-compliance.”

In January 2015 a separate batch of named and shamed companies included H&M owner Hennes & Mauritz and Welcome Break. Speaking then, Philip Pepper, employment law partner at Shakespeares, said: “There are a number of reasons why employers may have got this wrong or been caught out. It is most likely due to human error, but in some cases minimum wage regulations can be complex to apply.

“Other reasons for underpayment could be a straightforward payroll error, for example applying the wrong pay band to workers who are 21 or over.”

Read more about the minimum wage:

The National Minimum Wage attracted interest during chancellor George Osborne’s latest Budget speech when it was announced that it would be increased by 20p to £6.70 from October, the biggest real-terms increase for seven years. For apprentices, the rate will go up by 57p to £3.30 an hour, an increase of 20 per cent. This figure is higher than the 7p recommended by the Low Pay Commission.

The hourly rate for 18-20 year-olds will rise from £5.13 to £5.30, a three per cent increase, and by 8p to £3.87 for 16 and 17-year-olds, a rise of two per cent.

The current National Minimum Wage rates are:

  • Adult rate (21 years and over) – £6.50 per hour
  • 18 to 20-year olds – £5.13 per hour
  • 16 to 17-year olds – £3.79 per hour
  • Apprentice rate – £2.73 per hour
Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage not only have to pay back arrears of wages at current minimum wage rates but also face financial penalties of up to £20,000. In the most serious cases employers can be prosecuted, the government said.

The naming and shaming process happens to all those which have been issued with a notice of underpayment, unless employers meet one of the exceptional criteria or have arrears of £100 or less. Employers then have 28 days to appeal to HMRC against the notice. If the employer does not appeal or unsuccessfully appeals against it, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will consider them for naming.

The top ten underpaying employers in the new list are:

  1. G1 Venues, trading as Arta Restaurant, Glasgow, neglected to pay £45,124.00 to 2895 workers
  2. The Clothing Works (ceased trading), Corby, neglected to pay £17,007.08 to 38 workers
  3. Freedom Sportsline, trading as Foot Locker, London, neglected to pay £16,718.25 to 601 workers
  4. French Connection UK, London, neglected to pay £16,436.05 to 367 workers
  5. Minara Enterprises, trading as Fakenham Tandoori, Fakenham, neglected to pay £11,696.47 to 1 worker
  6. Sharon Makin, trading as Clever Clowns Day Nursery, Manchester, neglected to pay £10,572.08 to 6 workers
  7. UK Gaming Computers, Colchester, neglected to pay £6,036.99 to 2 workers
  8. Sarah Sloane and David Sloane, trading as Hawes Side Nursery, Blackpool, neglected to pay £2,825.58 to 3 workers
  9. Weston Hire Services, Weston-super-Mare, neglected to pay £2,819.79 to 1 worker
  10. Miss C Glendon and Miss S Glendon, trading as Ciara’s Tots Day Nursery, Manchester, neglected to pay £2,549.23 to 1 worker

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