Primark among 260 employers ‘shamed’ on pay by HMRC

Two of the biggest brands in UK discount retailing are among 260 employers “named and shamed” by the Government for failing to give staff the national minimum wage.

HMRC identified 16,000 workers who were owed a total of £1.7m in back pay.

Among them were 383 Sports Direct staff – short of £167,000 – after the company was at the centre of a storm over its pay, business practices and corporate governance last year.

Two agencies which supplied staff to Sports Direct were also publicly identified.

Sports Direct is a FTSE 250 company majority-owned and run by Mike Ashley

Image: Sports Direct faced claims of Victorian working conditions at its Shirebrook warehouse in 2016

The Department for Business (BEIS) said Best Connection failed to pay the most of any of the companies named – almost £470,000 to 2,558 workers – while Transline Group had to give £310,000 to 1,421 people.

A Sports Direct spokesman said: “This matter relates to the historical situation in our warehouse that was widely publicised in 2016, for which we apologised at the time.

“We co-operated fully with HMRC to make back payments to Sports Direct staff who were affected.

“We are committed to treating all our people with dignity and respect, and we pay above the national minimum wage.”

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Video: Mike Ashley responds to his critics

The other well known retail brand to pay up was Primark, which was fingered for more than £230,000 owed to more than 9,700 workers.

BEIS said the most common reasons for not meeting the rules included not paying overtime and deducting money for uniforms.

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.”

The general secretary of the TUC union organisation, Frances O’Grady, said: “Today’s list should put the frighteners on rogue employers across the country.

“Pay your staff properly or face hefty fines and get shamed in the papers.

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“Minimum wage dodging has reached chronic levels in shops, salons and hospitality.

“The Government should focus their efforts to ensure that these sectors clean up their act.”