These retailers are topping the list of low paying employers

Few months go by these days without a huge story in the media about a big employer that has tried cutting corners, has a pension pot shortfall, or some other scandal like failing to pay its employees the national minimum wage.

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Household names

Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not always confined to small businesses that no one has ever heard of; shockingly, many are household names, British institutions. When a list of the businesses who had underpaid their workers was published in February 2017, few might have predicted the name of the company at the top: Debenhams.

The report published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) listed no fewer than 360 companies who had not paid workers the minimum wage, or the new ‘living wage.’ The number of Debenhams workers underpaid by the business topped 11,500.

Also on the list was Peacocks. The fashion retailer had underpaid 42 workers a total of £2.2k. In total, more than 15,500 workers were paid less than they were entitled to, and a sum of just under £1million. The retail and hospitality industries were among the most prolific offenders, perhaps due to the number of seasonal or temporary workers.

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Companies like Mood Media who provide digital signage work with lots of businesses in the retail industries and are keen to see an end to the practice. Many companies are getting behind the government’s campaign aimed at the employees to raise awareness of their rights and how to check they are getting what they are entitled to.

Living wage shortfall

Lists of this nature have been published before though this was the first time those businesses failing to pay the national Living Wage – £7.20ph for adults aged 25 or older – were also named. For all the latest information about the national minimum wage and the living wage, visit the government website.

Fines were issued by HMRC, which many hope will serve as a deterrent for others, or encouragement to look into payments properly. Debenhams, for example, blamed an error in their calculations for their underpayments, which amounted to roughly £10 per affected worker, back in 2015. They are keen to point out that they did reimburse all those affected once the error was highlighted.

Investigations continue and HMRC is still looking into 1,500 cases.

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