Three retail giants have been “named and shamed” for failing to pay their staff properly by the government.
Following an investigation by HMRC dating back to 2017 they found that 63,000 workers were owed £5 million and were ordered to pay this back to their staff and were fined around £7 million.
Kevin Hollinrake, minister for enterprise, markets and small business, said: “Paying the legal minimum wage is non-negotiable and all businesses, whatever their size, should know better than to short-change hard-working staff.
“Most businesses do the right thing and look after their employees, but we’re sending a clear message to the minority who ignore the law: pay your staff properly or you’ll face the consequences.”
Bryan Sanderson, chairman of the Low Pay Commission, said: “Regular naming rounds should be a useful tool in raising awareness of underpayment and helping to protect minimum wage workers.”
WH Smith which was found by HMRC to be the worst offender after failing to pay some £1 million to 17,607 workers.
A spokesman for WH Smith said: “Following a review with HMRC in 2019, and in common with a number of retailers, it was brought to our attention that we had misinterpreted how the statutory wage regulations were applied to our uniform policy for staff working in our stores.
“This was a genuine error and it was rectified immediately with all colleagues reimbursed in 2019.”
The HMRC investigation into M&S found that the retailer had failed to pay £578,390 to 5,363 of their hard workers.
An M&S spokesman said: “Like many other organisations, M&S is only named in the list because of an unintentional technical issue from over four years ago.
“This happened simply because temporary colleagues were not paid within the strict time periods specified in the national minimum wage regulations and was remedied as soon as we became aware of the issue.
“Our minimum hourly pay has never been below the national minimum wage, it is currently above it and no colleagues were ever underpaid because of this.”
Sainsbury’s who owns Argos was found to have failed to pay £480,093 to more than 10,000 of their staff.
A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “Back in 2018, a payroll error was identified which affected some Argos store colleagues and drivers and dated back to 2012, before Sainsbury’s acquisition of Argos.
“We launched an immediate investigation, working alongside HMRC, and put this right at the time.
“Since then we have completed the integration of Argos onto Sainsbury’s systems which will prevent this from happening again.”