HMRC investigation | Greggs, EasyJet & Harrods among firms named for minimum wage violations

Greggs, EasyJet & Harrods among firms named for minimum wage violations

Over 500 of the UK’s biggest companies have been named by the government for failing to pay some employees the statutory minimum wage.

This news comes as the government shared a list of employers who had to collectively repay £16million to almost 172,000 workers, in addition to penalties associated with breaching minimum wage regulations.

Greggs, EasyJet and Staffline are among the businesses named by the Department for Business and Trade for not properly paying members of their workforce.

Staffline, a large recruitment agency, was at the top of the list having incorrectly paid 36,767 employees, resulting in owed wages of £5.13million. The company said incorrect payments were due to historical errors dating from 2013 to 2018.

Harrods was also cited for underpaying employees – the luxury department store blamed an administrative mistake from seven years ago as the reason for the issue.

Global cosmetics company Estee Lauder also made the list for failing to pay nearly £900,000 to 6000 employees – the firm said that a misinterpretation of HM Revenue & Customs guidance regarding staff purchases was to blame for the mishap.

Lessons in underpayment

“Employees deserve to get paid properly for the hard work they put in,” exerts Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business, Kevin Hollinrake. “While the majority of businesses already do the right thing and pay their staff what they are owed, this announcement sends a message to the minority who aren’t - that there are repercussions to undercutting hard work from their staff.”

Other businesses guilty of underpaying staff include BAE Systems Digital Intelligence, Moss Bros Group and River Island.

The compiled list by HM Revenue & Customs spans between 2015 and 2023. These companies have since paid back what they owe to employees but have also faced financial penalties of up to 200% of their underpayment, highlighting the importance of minimum wage adherence.

Independent Commissioner at the Low Pay Commission, Patricia Rice, comments: “Since its introduction nearly twenty-five years ago, the national minimum wage has played a vital role in protecting the earnings of the lowest-paid workers in the UK. At a time when the cost-of-living is rising, it is more important than ever that these workers receive the pay to which they are entitled.

“National Minimum Wage underpayment not only cheats workers of their rightful due, it leaves compliant firms undercut by those who do not abide by the law. By naming the firms responsible for significant underpayment, we raise awareness of the nature and the scale of underpayment and encourage all employers to ensure that they fully comply with the law.”

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