The government has ‘named and shamed’ 230 employers which have failed to pay the National Minimum Wage.
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The move, part of a wider push on Minimum Wage enforcement, will see £2 million compensation paid to a total of around 13,000 employees.
Hospitality businesses in the crosshairs
Around 50 businesses operating in hospitality were censured under the campaign.
Hairdressers and beauty businesses were also targeted, although some of the worst offenders were found to be prominent employers including Argos.
Argos admitted in February to failing to meet its Minimum Wage commitments to some 37,000 staff, and was fined a total of £800,000.
Small business Minimum Wage lessons
The government found that failure to pay the Minimum Wage, or the National Living Wage for employees over 25, occurred across sectors and amongst businesses of every size.
The Office for National Statistics estimates that 362,000 are paid below the Minimum Wage, although some workers in that bracket may still be being paid legally, for example through the provision of benefits offered as part of the contract.
However, small businesses have long been warned over Minimum Wage obligations. In particular, employers may be inadvertently breaking the law by requiring employees to attend meetings or undergo training outside of their working hours but unpaid.
Argos was found to have been using these practices, requiring staff to attend unpaid briefings in advance of their shifts, and submit to searches after they finished. None of this time was paid.
Trade unions have been pressuring the government to do more on wage enforcement, especially since the rise of the so-called ‘gig economy’.
Responding to the latest campaign, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told the BBC: “We know there are more wage-dodging employers out there.
“TUC research suggests there are at least a quarter of a million workers being cheated out of the Minimum Wage.”