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WH Smith, M&S and Argos amongst tons of fined for failing to pay minimal wage

Tons of of companies together with high-street heavyweights WH Smith, M&S and Argos have been named and shamed after being fined for failing to pay employees the minimal wage.

Corporations from sole merchants to family names had been ordered to repay 63,000 employees misplaced wages totalling near £5m, after breaching Nationwide Minimal Wage (NMW) regulation.

WH Smith topped the checklist for failing to pay greater than £1m to over 17,000 employees, carefully adopted by Lloyds Pharmacy, which needed to repay over £900,000 to nearly 8,000 of its employees.
Grocery store and clothes retailer M&S didn’t pay greater than 5,000 workers nearly £580,000, whereas Argos, owned by Sainsbury’s, repaid over 10,000 employees over £480,000.

Bingo operator Buzz Group additionally didn’t pay near £320,000 to greater than 3,000 employees.

Small enterprise minister Kevin Hollinrake stated: “Paying the authorized minimal wage is non-negotiable and all companies, no matter their dimension, ought to know higher than to short-change hard-working employees.”

The 202 companies had been cumulatively fined nearly an extra £7m, payable to HMRC, in what ministers stated was a “clear message from authorities that no employer is exempt”.

39 per cent of companies docked workers’ pay whereas a separate 39 per cent didn’t pay the correct quantity for work hours, and an extra 21 per cent of employers paid the mistaken apprenticeship charge.

It got here after a 9.7 per cent rise within the statutory dwelling wage and minimal wage got here into drive for almost 3m employees throughout the UK in April 2023.

The repayments and fines adopted HMRC investigations concluding between 2017 to 2019.

“We’re sending a transparent message to the minority who ignore the regulation: pay your employees correctly otherwise you’ll face the implications,” Hollinrake added.

Low Pay Fee chairman Bryan Sanderson stated: “The minimal wage acts as a assure to make sure all employees with out exception obtain an honest commonplace of pay.

“The place employers break the regulation, they not solely do a disservice to their employees but additionally undermine honest competitors between companies.”

A spokesperson for WH Smith stated: “Following a overview with HMRC in 2019, it was delivered to our consideration that we had misinterpreted how statutory wage rules utilized to uniform coverage for employees working in our shops.

“This was a real error and was rectified instantly with all colleagues reimbursed in 2019.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson stated: “In 2018, a payroll error was recognized which affected some Argos retailer colleagues and drivers, courting again to 2012, earlier than Sainsbury’s acquisition of Argos.

“We launched a direct investigation, alongside HMRC, and put this proper on the time. Since then we now have accomplished the mixing of Argos onto Sainsbury’s techniques which is able to forestall this from occurring once more.

“Since buying Argos, we now have made vital funding into pay and the Argos hourly charge is now aligned with Sainsbury’s, a rise of 53 per cent over the past seven years.”

An M&S spokesperson stated: “Like many different organisations, M&S is simply named within the NMW checklist due to an unintentional technical difficulty from over 4 years in the past.

“This occurred just because short-term colleagues weren’t paid throughout the strict time durations specified within the rules and this was remedied as quickly as we turned conscious of the problem. Our minimal hourly pay has by no means been under nationwide minimal wage, and no colleagues had been ever underpaid due to this.”

A spokesperson for Lloyds Pharmacy stated: “Lloyds Pharmacy can verify that this pertains to a historic, and unintentional, underpayment led to by HMRC’s guidelines round firm uniforms.

“As quickly as we had been made conscious of it we acted shortly to inform the affected colleagues and reimburse them. We additionally up to date our uniform coverage to make sure it didn’t recur.

“Lloyds Pharmacy can verify all our workers are paid above the nationwide minimal wage and want to take this chance to apologise once more to any Lloyds Pharmacy colleagues who had been affected, in addition to reassure them of our dedication to honest and equitable pay.”