Two large MK companies have been named and shamed by the government for failing to pay the minimum wage to some of their workers.
The first is Welcome Break Holdings Ltd, based in Vantage Court, Tickford Street, Newport Pagnell. They are one of the UK’s leading motorway service operators, running 44 service areas and 31 hotels across the UK - including Newport Pagnell service station.
According to the government, the company failed to pay £49031.77 to 1591 workers.
The second local company is Hotel MK Limited, trading as Double Tree by Hilton Milton Keynes. They failed to pay £1552.07 to 12 workers.
A spokesman for Double Tree said today: "This was an administrative error, relating to our reclassification of uniform, which affected 12 employees, and as soon as we were made aware of this technicality, the matter was resolved immediately.”
The two companies are among 191 businesses being named for breaking national minimum wage law.
Following investigations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, a total of £2.1 million was found to be owed to over 34,000 workers.
The breaches took place between 2011 and 2018. Named employers have since been made to pay back what they owed, and were fined an additional £3.2 million, showing it is never acceptable to underpay workers.
The UK government recently gave millions a pay rise, by increasing National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates in April 2021. The rise means someone working full time on the National Living Wage will be taking home £5,400 more annually than they were in 2010. Every single UK worker is entitled to the National Minimum Wage, no matter their age or profession.
While not all minimum wage underpayments are intentional, it has always been the responsibility of all employers to abide by the law, say government bosses. Clear guidance is available on gov.uk, which all employers should check.
Minimum wage breaches can occur when workers are being paid on or just above the minimum wage rate, and then have deductions from their pay for uniform or accommodation.
Of the 191 employers named today, 47% wrongly deducted pay from workers’ wages, including for uniform and expenses, while 30% failed to pay workers for all the time they had worked, such as when they worked overtime.
Another 19% paid the incorrect apprenticeship rate.
Business Minister Paul Scully said: "Our minimum wage laws are there to ensure a fair day’s work gets a fair day’s pay – it is unacceptable for any company to come up short. All employers, including those on this list, need to pay workers properly.
"This government will continue to protect workers’ rights vigilantly, and employers that short-change workers won’t get off lightly."
Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back arrears of wages to the worker at current minimum wage rates. They also face hefty financial penalties of up to 200% of arrears - capped at £20,000 per worker - which are paid to the government. Since 2015 the government has ordered employers to repay over £100 million to 1 million workers.
A significant number of the minimum wage breaches identified today affected those on apprenticeships, and the government has published new guidance to ensure employers know exactly what they need to do to pay their apprentices, and all workers, correctly.
HMRC also offers advice for all workers on how to ensure they are being paid correctly via the Check your pay website.
Chair of the Low Pay Commission Bryan Sanderson said: "These are very difficult times for all workers, particularly those on low pay who are often undertaking critical tasks in a variety of key sectors including care. The minimum wage provides a crucial level of support and compliance is essential for the benefit of both the recipients and our society as a whole."