Gov outs retailers that failed to pay minimum wage

House of Fraser, Schuh, and Waterstones, have been called out by the government for failing to pay some of their staff the minimum wage.

House of Fraser failed to pay £16,235.19 to 354 workers.

But Frasers Group, which owns the department store, said it should be made clear that it only purchased the assets of House of Fraser out of administration in August 2018.

“This was long after the date when these breaches are said to have happened,” said a Frasers Group spokesperson. “However, by acquiring those assets the claims are said to have passed to the new business owner.”

They added: “In short, these breaches are historic and relate to the activities of the old House of Fraser company that is now in administration and is nothing at all to do with any activities of the new House of Fraser business that is owned by Frasers Group.”

Waterstones failed to pay £8,689.54 to 58 workers.

“The breach was a technical one caused by salary sacrifice arrangements with employees in the period 2016-2018," said James Daunt, chief executive of Waterstones. "It was remedied immediately it was identified.

“Salary sacrifice schemes are to the advantage of the employee and there was no intention that this cause pay technically to fall below the minimum wage.”

According to the government Schuh also failed to pay £807.38 to 39 workers.

Retail Systems has approached Schuh for comment.

All 208 employers found to have underpaid wages have since had to pay back what they owe to staff and have also faced penalties of up to 200 per cent of what was owed.

The investigations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs concluded between 2014 and 2019.

“We want workers to know that we’re on their side and they must be treated fairly by their employers, which is why paying the legal minimum wage should be non-negotiable for businesses," said minister for labour markets Paul Scully. "Today’s 208 businesses, whatever their size, should know better than to short-change hard-working employees, regardless of whether it was intentional or not.

"With Christmas fast approaching, it’s more important than ever that cash is not withheld from the pockets of workers. So don’t be a scrooge – pay your staff properly."

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