Pret A Manger, Sheffield United FC and John Lewis are among 191 employers fined and publicly criticised for an “unacceptable” breach of employment law in which tens of thousands of workers were paid less than the minimum wage.
It's been reported that the breach by Pret related to childcare vouchers which had “inadvertently caused remuneration to fall below minimum levels”.
The published list of large and small businesses “named and shamed” has reportedly “short-changing” more than 34,000 workers by a combined £2.1 million.
According to HMRC, the decision to name and shame the organisations that had transgressed, serves as a reminder to employers that the government will take action against those that fail to pay their employees the minimum wage.
Employers that pay workers less than the NMW have to pay back arrears to the worker at current minimum wage rates. They also face financial penalties of up to 200% of arrears – capped at £20,000 for each worker. Since 2015, the government has ordered employers to repay more than £100 million to one million people.
HMRC said a “significant” number of the minimum wage breaches identified affected those on apprenticeships. As a result, the government has published new guidance this week to make clear to employers how to pay apprentice, and all their workers correctly.
Companies that have been fined include John Lewis, which failed to pay £941,355.67 to 19,392 workers. Welcome Break Holdings also failed to pay 1,591 workers a total of £49,031.77. The investigation also found that Body Shop International underpaid 959 employees by £34,670.81, while Enterprise Rent-A-Car UK failed to pay £25,438.82 to 65 workers, Sheffield United FC failed to pay £21,802.17 to 25 workers, and Pret A Manger (Europe) underpaid 33 employees by £9,679.91.