Tesco, Superdrug and Pizza Hut are among the 139 organisations identified by the government as having breached minimum wage rules.
According to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), these employers underpaid more than 95,000 workers by a total of £6.7 million.
The organisations were investigated between 2016 and 2018, and range from small businesses to large multinationals. They must now pay staff arrears of their wages at current minimum wage rates.
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If employers fail to do this, they face financial penalties of up to 200% of the arrears, capped at £10,000 per worker.
Tesco underpaid 78,199 people by almost £5.1 million, according to BEIS. Pizza Hut was another employer to flout the rules, underpaying by more than £845,000.
Bryan Sanderson, chair of the Low Pay Commission, said: “The annual changes are well publicised six months in advance following a well understood process.
“Those affected are among the most needy and vulnerable in our country; the companies concerned should be deeply ashamed of their performance.”
According to the BEIS, one of the main causes of breaches was employees being made to cover work costs such as paying for uniform, training or parking fees. Some employers failed to raise the minimum wage when staff entered a new age bracket.
Business minister Paul Scully said: “Paying the minimum wage is not optional, it is the law. It is never acceptable for any employer to short-change their workers, but it is especially disappointing to see huge household names who absolutely should know better on this list.
“This should serve as a wake-up call to named employers and a reminder to everyone of the importance of paying workers what they are legally entitled to. Make no mistake, those who fail to follow minimum wage rules will be caught out and made to pay up.”
The government paused its ‘name and shame’ scheme in 2018 to carry out a review of its effectiveness, and this is the first time those in breach of the regulations have been listed since then.
The review concluded that cases of abuse should still be called out, but that employers should receive more support to comply with the regulations, for example by permitting a greater variety of payment cycles and allowing employers to set the best ‘calculation year’ for their workers.
The current minimum wage rate for employees aged 25 and over is £8.72 per hour, and for those aged 21 to 25 is £8.20. From 1 April 2021, these rates will rise to £8.91 and £8.36 respectively.