// Iceland launches attack against HMRC for its investigation over a savings scheme amid Covid-19
// Iceland boss Malcolm Walker says he is “totally shocked & amazed” that HMRC is chasing the business
Iceland has reportedly slammed the HMRC for “harassing” the retailer over its Christmas Club employee savings scheme during the coronavirus crisis.
The frozen food specialist’s boss Malcolm Walker said he was “totally shocked and amazed” that the government department is chasing Iceland for information on the scheme “under the current conditions,” The Times reported.
The scheme was intended to allow staff to save money for Christmas.
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HMRC reportedly accused Iceland of breaking minimum wage rules around the savings scheme for its staff.
As part of the scheme, Iceland employees could choose to have money deducted from their pay packets that is then saved in a dedicated account and typically withdrawn at Christmas.
HMRC has argued that, as a result, their pay technically did not meet the minimum wage regulations.
Walker said Iceland currently had 3000 employees off sick on full pay, a further 1200 vulnerable staff taking 12 weeks leave on sick pay and it was facing £20 million of additional costs from dealing with the coronavirus.
Iceland boss said that sales had halved at 200 of its stores.
However, total sales are thought to have increased by double-digits demand for frozen food soared during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the HMRC said Iceland broke further rules by telling store staff to wear “sensible shoes” because employees should be compensated for any footwear purchased for work.
As a result of the allegations, Iceland may have to pay £21 million, and it has already spent more than £300,000 in legal fees defending its Christmas Club and footwear policy against HMRC’s investigations.