Waterstones are among just some of the companies that have been “named and shamed” by the Government this morning for failing to pay the minimum wage.
Over 200 firms were found to have underpaid staff by £1.2m in investigations carried out between 2014 and 2019. This included failing to pay them for time spent travelling or training, applying wage rules incorrectly, or docking pay.
The companies were ordered to pay their employees what was owed and in some cases faced fines from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Aside from the book shop giant, other shamed companies included House of Fraser, Go-Ahead and Schuh.
Paul Scully, the small business minister, said: “We want workers to know that we’re on their side and they must be treated fairly by their employers, which is why paying the legal minimum wage should be non-negotiable for businesses.”
He said it was unacceptable for companies to “short-change” workers, even if it was through unintentional errors.
Scully added: “With Christmas fast approaching, it’s more important than ever that cash is not withheld from the pockets of workers. So don’t be a scrooge – pay your staff properly.”
Waterstones failed to pay £8,689 to 58 workers – an average of about £150 per person – according to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
James Daunt, chief executive of Waterstones, said that the firm’s breach was “a technical one” that sprung unintentionally from a salary salary sacrifice scheme between 2016 to 2018.
“It was remedied immediately after it was identified. Salary sacrifice schemes are to the advantage of the employee and there was no intention that this cause pay technically to fall below the minimum wage,” he added.
Meanwhile, House of Fraser failed to pay a total of £16,235 to 354 workers. A House of Fraser spokesman told The Telegraph said the breaches of law had happened at the business before it was bought out of administration by Frasers Group, formerly known as Sports Direct International.
Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady told Sky News: “Every worker deserves fair pay for their work. There’s no excuse for not paying the minimum wage. Firms who cheat staff out of their hard-earned money deserve to be named and shamed.”
“We also need to see prosecutions and higher fines for the most serious offenders, especially those who deliberately flout the law. Minimum wage underpayment is still far too common in Britain.”