Scottish firms named and shamed for failing to pay the minimum wage

Twenty-five Scottish businesses are today 'named and shamed' by the UK Government for failing to pay employees the national living and minimum wage.

One of the most prominent Scottish businesses mentioned was Dundee Football Club. Picture: Ian Rutherford

According to UK Government figures compiled since 2011, the Scottish businesses had owed 300 workers a total of £60,000.

When taken across the UK as a whole, a total of £1.42 million in backpay had been identified for 23,000 employees in more than 230 firms.

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In addition to the Scottish-headquartered companies identified by the UK Government, prominent UK wide companies with significant presences north of the border were also named and shamed.

They included Home Bargains and Card Factory. The research said Card Factory’s wage bill was in arrears by £430,097 between 2013 and 2016, an amount that came to an average shortfall of £41 when divided among 10,256 workers.

Home Bargains’ total shortfall was £272,228 between 6,743 workers between April and June of 2016, coming to an average per employee of £40.

The Scottish based company with the highest wages shortfall was Orkney and Shetland Charters, a firm specialising in boat trips.

Five employees working for Orkney and Shetland Charters were in arrears to the tune of more than £4,000 each between 2015 and 2017.

The research, which was done using HMRC data, said Orkney and Shetland Charters had arrears totalling £20,148. Last night a representative of the company said the firm was away of its presence on the list but declined to comment further.

One of the most prominent Scottish businesses mentioned was Dundee Football Club. The list said four employees of the Dens Park outfit had arrears averaging £533 (coming to a total of £2,134) between January 2015 and May 2016.

A Dundee Football Club spokesman said four players had been underpaid as a result of a administrative shortcomings in its payroll process. The players had since had the cash made up to them in a subsequent salary.

In general, the shortfalls varied from a few pounds per worker to more serious cases where employees found themselves more than one thousand pounds short.

Today’s research identifies backpay affecting more UK workers than any previous list and has generated record fines of £1.95 million.

Among the reasons for workers being paid less than are entitled to were employers making deductions for uniforms, underpaying apprentices and failing to pay travel time. Adults over the age of 25 should be paid at least £7.83 per hour.

The list was compiled as part of the UK Government’s drive to enforce the minimum wage. The UK Government is set to spend £26.3 million on the scheme this financial year, more than double the amount spent in 2015.

The scheme is in its fifth year and aims to name and shame employers who have fallen foul of minimum wage laws. So far it has identified £10.8 million in back pay for around 90,000 workers, with more than 1,900 employers fined a total of £8.4 million.

Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back arrears of wages to the worker at current minimum wage rates and face financial penalties of up to 200 per cent of arrears, capped at £20,000 per worker.

UK Government Minister Lord Duncan said: “It beggars belief that some employers think they can get away with underpaying staff and tricking them out of the wage to which they are legally entitled. That’s why we are naming shaming and fining these companies. We won’t stop until every employee in Scotland is paid correctly and fairly for their labours.”

Low Pay Commission Chairman Bryan Sanderson said: “It is crucial that employers understand their responsibilities and workers know their rights around the minimum wage. That is why active enforcement and effective communication from UK Government is so important.

“It is therefore encouraging to see that HMRC has recovered unpaid wages for the largest number of workers yet in this round of naming and shaming. I’m confident that the UK Government will continue to pursue underpayment of the minimum wage vigorously.”

Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: “Our priority is making sure workers know their rights and are getting the pay they worked hard for.  Employers who don’t do the right thing face fines as well as being hit with the bill for backpay.

“The UK’s lowest paid workers have had the fastest wage growth in 20 years thanks to the introduction of the National Living Wage and today’s list serves as a reminder to all employers to check they are getting their workers’ pay right.”