A £1.5 million fine has been handed to Argos, alongside a £2.4 million repayment bill, after it was found to have paid staff less than the minimum wage.
Following a report naming and shaming retailers who were in breach of minimum wage laws, HMRC has issued a penalty fine to the catalogue retailer.
In a letter distributed to Argos staff today, the retailer stated it had been paying workers less than the minimum wage by asking them to attend staff briefings and security checks outside of paid hours.
It is thought that underpayments average £64 per person and date back three years. This was reportedly discovered last year, just before its acquisition by Sainsbury‘s.
The supermarket stated it changed this practice in December as soon as it was made aware of the issue.
The 37,000 underpaid staff are expected to be paid back a total of £2.4 million by the end of this month.
Argos will only pay £800,000 of its £1.5 million fine as it is acting within 14 days of the sanction.
“Unexpected things do come up as we get to grips with the business,” Argos boss John Rogers said in the letter.
“Sainsbury‘s prides itself on being a trusted brand where people love to work and I was, therefore, very disappointed to hear this and launched an immediate investigation.”
He added that the company would raise the pay of the lowest paid workers by two per cent, from £7.20 to £7.66, ahead of April‘s rise in the minimum wage to £7.50.