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Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Named and shamed: Wagamama heads government list of minimum wage underpayers

Named and shamed: Wagamama heads government list of minimum wage underpayers

Wagamama, which topped the government's 14th list of organisations that have underpaid staff the minimum wage, failed to pay £133,212.42 to 2,630 employees.

Marriott Hotels was the second-worst offender on the government list, having to repay £71,723 to 279 workers.

Hales Home Care, based in Bramhall Place was also named in the list after it failed to pay £285.08 to six workers.

In total, £1.1m was owed to 9,200 workers across the 179 employers, which also included major retailers, hotels, cafes and restaurants.

TGI Friday's shortchanged 2,302 of its staff to the tune of £59,348.

Employers have underpaid a total of 9,200 employees by more than £1 million.

"In the past we didn't realise that asking our front of house staff to wear casual black jeans or skirt 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. Lots of other businesses were also unaware of this regulation around casual wear".

The government has published a list of those identified ahead of the next rate rise on 1 April, when the National Living Wage will increase 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.

A spokesman said: "The club is committed to paying the national minimum wage, and operates a policy of paying a premium over and above the national minimum wage".

Bryan Sanderson, Chairman of the Low Pay Commission, said: "As the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates rise on 1 April, it is vital that workers understand their rights, and employers their obligations".

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.

A TGI Fridays spokesperson said the firm had reimbursed team members for a shoe allowance. "We have since updated our payroll system so that this can not happen again and reimbursed all impacted associates", a spokesperson said.

Martyn Dobinson, Director at Saffery Champness in Manchester, said: "We were aware previous year of a number of instances where HMRC was carrying out compliance checks in the rural sector to see that minimum wage levels were being met".

"The issue arose from our now historical practice of allowing staff to pay for tickets and retail merchandise voluntarily purchased from the club via deduction from their monthly salaries, for which the employees gave written permission for deductions to be made".

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