John Lewis pays 19,000 workers less than minimum wage

John Lewis has been “named and shamed” by the government for failing to pay more than 19,000 of its employees the minimum wage.

An investigation by Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found that 191 companies failed to pay £2.1 million to over 34,000 workers.

The breaches took place between 2011 and 2018.

John Lewis was top of the list, owing £941,355 to 19,392 of its employees.
Martin McColl Retail came in second after failing to pay £258,047 to 4366 workers.

Named employers, including John Lewis, have since been made to pay back what they owed, and were fined an additional £3.2 million.

The employers named previously underpaid workers in the following ways:
• 47 per cent wrongly deducted pay from workers’ wages, including for uniform and expenses
• 30 per cent failed to pay workers for all the time they had worked, such as when they worked overtime
• 19 per cent paid the incorrect apprenticeship rate

“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,” said business minister Paul Scully. “All employers, including those on this list, need to pay workers properly.”

Scully added: “This government will continue to protect workers’ rights vigilantly, and employers that short-change workers won’t get off lightly.”
Retail Systems has reached out to John Lewis for comment.

A John Lewis Partnership spokesperson said: “We're surprised and disappointed that BEIS has chosen to report this today. This was a technical breach that happened four years ago, has been fixed and which we ourselves made public at the time. The issue arose because the Partnership smooths pay so that Partners with variable pay get the same amount each month, helping them to budget. Our average minimum hourly pay has never been below the national minimum wage and is currently 15 per cent above it.”

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