NATIONAL: Government name businesses failing to pay national minimum wage

RESTAURANT Wagamama and hotels giant Marriott have topped a list of firms '˜named and shamed' by the government for failing to pay workers the national minimum wage.

Friday, 9th March 2018, 8:27 am
Updated Friday, 9th March 2018, 9:29 am
Wagamama restaurant was named in a list of employers not paying the national minimum wage

TGI Friday’s was also on the list of 179 employers released today.

According to figures from the Business Department, Wagamama, which has chains at Gunwharf Quays and Whiteley, was said to have failed to pay £133,212 to 2,630 workers, the most of any of the companies named.

Meanwhile, Marriott failed to pay £71,723 to 279 workers.

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TGI Friday’s, which has a restaurant in Park Gate near Fareham, shortchanged 2,302 of its staff to the tune of £59,348.

A total of £1.1m in back pay was identified for 9,200 workers, with retail, hairdressing and hospitality businesses the most prolific offenders.

The government also fined the employers a total of £1.3 million in penalties.

Failing to pay workers for travelling between jobs, not paying overtime, and deducting money for uniforms were some of the reasons for the underpayments.

Business minister Andrew Griffiths said: ‘There are no excuses for shortchanging workers.

‘This is an absolute red line for this government and employers who cross it will get caught.

‘Today’s naming round serves as a sharp reminder to employers to get their house in order ahead of minimum wage rate rises on April 1.’

On that date, the National Living Wage will go up from £7.50 to £7.83 per hour.

A Wagamama statement said the company has always paid minimum wage and makes sure that staff receive 100 per cent of their tips.

It said: ‘This was an inadvertent misunderstanding of how the minimum wage regulations apply to uniforms and as soon as we were made aware of this in 2016 we acted immediately to correct the position.

‘In the past we didn’t realise that asking our front of house staff to wear casual black jeans or skirts, with their Wagamama branded top, was considered as asking them to buy a form of uniform and so we should have paid them for it.

‘We have gladly made payments to current and previous employees who missed out dating back from 2016 to 2013.’

A spokesman for Marriott said the company ‘is committed to compliance with the national minimum wage’.

He added: ‘When an error was identified by a routine HMRC audit in 2015, we co-operated fully with HMRC and promptly reimbursed all those affected.

‘We apologise to all our associates impacted by this error and have taken steps to ensure it cannot happen again.’

A TGI Fridays spokesperson said their figures relates to shoe allowance.

‘To confirm, TGI Fridays does pay the National Minimum Wage hourly rate,’ they said.

‘The total figure quoted in today’s HMRC list relates to reimbursing team members a shoe allowance.

‘This is a historic payment which was paid last year, and we have since reimbursed team members for the purchase of their black uniform shoes.’