Sports Direct & Primark named and shamed for underpaying staff

Sports Direct Primark

Sports Direct and Primark have been listed in the government’s latest list of businesses that have been identified for paying staff below the minimum wage.

Of the 260 businesses that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) released today for underpaying 16,000 workers, Primark and Sports Direct were listed in the top five, at third and fourth respectively.

BEIS said Primark failed to pay £231,973 to 9735 workers, while Sports Direct failed to pay £167,036 to 383 workers.

Meanwhile, an employment agency used by Sports Direct, The Best Connection, topped the list after it failed to pay £469,273 to 2558 workers.

The full list reveals how a record 16,000 workers were underpaid a combined total of £1.7 million, with employers in the hairdressing, hospitality and retail sectors the most prolific offenders.

BEIS fined 260 employers a total of £1.3 million for underpaying the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates.

Primark was placed on the list after deducting money for their uniforms from their salaries, leaving them earning less than the minimum wage.

The retailer has since apologised to affected staff and paid them back.

“The company is committed to the national minimum wage and has apologised to the employees concerned,” a spokesman said.

“It has also reviewed its procedures in order to avoid this situation re-occurring.”

Meanwhile, Sports Direct its issue related to an issue in its warehouse that was widely publicised in 2016, and that it has since co-operated fully with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to pay back affected staff.

The sportswear retailer had been criticised for the working conditions at its Shirebrook warehouse last year.

Business Minister Margot James said: “There is no excuse for not paying staff the wages they’re entitled to and the government will come down hard on businesses that break the rules.

“That’s why today we are naming hundreds of employers who have been short changing their workers; and to ensure there are consequences for their wallets as well as their reputation, we’ve levied millions in back pay and fines.”

Low Pay Commission chairman Bryan Sanderson added: “[Our] conversations with employers suggest that the risk of being named is encouraging businesses to focus on compliance.

“Further, it is good to see that HMRC continues to target large employers who have underpaid a large number of workers, as well as cases involving only a few workers, where workers are at risk of the most serious exploitation.

“It is imperative that the government keeps up the pressure on all employers who commit breaches of minimum wage law.”

Since 2013, the scheme has identified £8 million in back pay for 58,000 workers, with 1500 employers fined a total of £5 million.

This year the government said it expected to spend a record £25.3 million on minimum wage enforcement.

Minimum wage rates will rise again next April, giving young workers in particular the biggest pay boost in a decade.

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