WH Smith, M&S and Argos named for not paying staff minimum wage

WH Smith, M&S and Argos named for not paying staff minimum wage

WH Smith, M&S and Argos named for not paying staff minimum wage

Posted: 25/07/2023

High Street retail giants WH Smith, M&S and Argos are among more than 200 employers named by the government for failing to pay their lowest paid staff the minimum wage. 

Joanne Stronach Director and Head of Employment & HR provides an update.

The 202 employers were found to have failed to pay their workers almost £5 million in a clear breach of National Minimum Wage (NMW) law, leaving around 63,000 workers out of pocket. 

Companies being named today range from major high street brands to small businesses and sole traders, in a clear message from government that no employer is exempt from paying their workers the statutory minimum wage. 

Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business Kevin Hollinrake 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.”

The businesses named in the list have since paid back what they owe to their staff and have also faced financial penalties. The investigations by His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs concluded between 2017 and 2019. 

The employers previously underpaid workers in the following ways: 

  • 39% of employers deducted pay from workers’ wages 
  • 39% of employers failed to pay workers correctly for their working time 
  • 21% of employers paid the incorrect apprenticeship rate. 

Guidance for employers on pay is available on GOV.UK.

Bryan Sanderson Chair of the Low Pay Commission said: “The minimum wage acts as a guarantee to ensure all workers without exception receive a decent minimum standard of pay. Where employers break the law, they not only do a disservice to their staff but also undermine fair competition between businesses. 

“Regular naming rounds should be a useful tool in raising awareness of underpayment and helping to protect minimum wage workers.”

If you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law please contact Joanne on 01228 516666 or click here to send her an email.