On 31 December 2020, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published a list of 139 employers who had collectively failed to pay £6.7 million to over 95,000 workers between September 2016 and July 2018. The list included a number of household names, including Tesco and Pizza Hut. This is the first time the government has “named and shamed” employers since the scheme was paused in 2018 while the process was reformed, ensuring only serious offenders were targeted.
Although some breaches of minimum wage rules are not intentional, employers have a responsibility to ensure they abide by the law. Accordingly, employers who under pay workers must pay back arrears of wages to workers at current minimum wage rates. Employers also face financial penalties of up to 200% of arrears, capped at £10,000 per worker, which are paid to the government.
All of the 139 employers listed have now paid arrears of wages to their workers and faced financial penalties. Two of the main causes of breaches were low-paid workers being made to cover work-related costs (such as paying for uniform, training or parking fees) and employers failing to raise workers’ pay after they had a birthday which should have moved them into a different national minimum wage bracket.