Hospitality firms top wage offenders list

The government has named and shamed another raft of employers for failing to pay their staff the national minimum or living wage – and almost one in four are from the hospitality sector.

For the first time, the list published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy includes employers who failed to pay eligible workers at least the new national living wage rate, which is currently £7.20 for workers aged 25 and over.

In all, 360 businesses underpaid 15,520 workers a total of £995,233. Of those, 84 were employers in the hospitality sector that underpaid 553 staff some £240,516.44.

However, Unite said the government’s “light tap on the knuckles” approach is not working. That the government has mounted only 13 prosecutions for non-compliance since 2007 is “pathetic”, said the union’s assistant general secretary Steve Turner. “Bad bosses” should face jail for “wage theft”, he added.

Debenhams was the worst offender having failed to pay almost £135,000 in wages to almost 12,000 employees. Osteria San Lorenzo in London and the Aviator Hotel in Farnborough were the worst offenders in hospitality having underpaid staff by almost £53,500 and more than £32,000 respectively. KFC and Domino’s are two of the big high street names on the list.

BEIS said the excuses for underpaying workers included using tips to top up pay, docking workers’ wages to pay for their Christmas party and making staff pay for their own uniforms out of their salary.

The publication comes weeks after the government launched a £1.7m national minimum and living wage awareness-raising campaign, encouraging the UK’s lowest paid workers to check they are being paid the correct rates and to report their employer if they are not.

Since the scheme was introduced in October 2013, more than 1,000 employers have been named and shamed, with arrears totalling more than £4.5m. More than £2m in fines have been issued to wage offenders. There are also currently more than 1,500 open cases which HMRC is investigating.

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