Debenhams, Subway, And A KFC Store Just Got Called Out By The Government For Not Paying The Minimum Wage

    All companies contacted by BuzzFeed News said any issues were now rectified and that all money had now been paid to staff.

    Debenhams, Subway, and one KFC store are among a list of hundreds of companies that failed to pay all their staff the legal minimum wage, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

    The government department has released a list of more than 350 "living wage offenders" that underpaid staff, to raise awareness of the importance of compliance.

    It said it had issued fines totalling £800,000 to those named on the list and published the names to send a "clear message to employers that minimum wage abuses will not go unpunished".

    The list includes retailers, fast-food chains, local care homes, hairdressers, nurseries, and kebab shops, among others.

    Department store Debenhams was found to owe £134,894.83 to 11,858 staff – the largest amount of any company.

    A Debenhams spokesperson told BuzzFeed News the underpayment was a result of a "technical error in payroll calculations" that resulted in an average underpayment of £10 per staff member in 2015 and said the money was reimbursed and staff received apologies. Steps have also taken to ensure it "cannot happen again," they said.

    Second on the list was Pembrokeshire Care, a care home based in Haverfordwest that was found to owe £55,056.75 to 154 workers. The company told BuzzFeed News it had rectified the issue, which was around the payment of travel time and certain shifts, and said it was "unaware" its pay structure did not meet regulations at the time.

    An upmarket restaurant called Osteria San Lorenzo, based in Knightsbridge, London, came third on the list after it failed to pay £53,496.57 to 29 workers. The owner of the restaurant did not respond to requests for comment.

    There were also seven Subway stores included on the list found to owe staff a range of money in underpaid wages – in Dudley, Bradford, Sheffield, Durham, Southampton, and Northampton. BuzzFeed News reached out to Subway, and a spokesperson stressed the stores were franchised and independently owned and operated.

    The spokesperson said complying with "all aspects" of employment law was a requirement of the business, and that it was satisfied measures had been taken to reimburse those impacted.

    A KFC store in Aberdeen was found to have underpaid £1,068.13 to 23 workers, as was a Domino's franchise in Woking, Surrey, which failed to pay £342.30 to one worker. A spokesperson for Domino's stressed it was an "isolated incident caused by confusion over a store colleague’s date of birth and the issue has been resolved”.

    KFC said the issue was an "administrative error" that had since been resolved. "We’re sorry they happened and have taken steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

    Business minister Margot James said the government would "ensure" that every worker in the UK got the national minimum wage they were entitled to.

    “That is why we have named and shamed employers who failed to pay the legal minimum," she said, "sending the clear message to employers that minimum wage abuses will not go unpunished."

    Among the "excuses" BEIS said it had heard from those who failed to pay the wage were using tips to top-up pay, docking workers’ wages to pay for their Christmas party, and making staff pay for their own uniform out of their salary.

    In response to companies telling BuzzFeed News they had made genuine mistakes, a BEIS spokesperson said: "There are no excuses for not paying the minimum wage."

    The government is ramping up attention on employment practices. A review run by Matthew Taylor, CEO of the Royal Society of Arts, will explore the modern world of work and working practices.

    Separately, the business, energy, and industrial strategy select committee will investigate workers rights and the gig economy in an inquiry due to begin imminently.