Staff uniform allowances trigger minimum wage failure

Foot Locker and French Connection are among the big name employers named and shamed for not paying the national minimum wage.

Other big name employers cited by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) included Pizza Hut, Toni & Guy, 99p stores and The Clothing Works.

However, contrary to reports elsewhere, car repairer HM Body Shop, not The Body Shop, violated the national minimum wage by failing to pay £1,944.83 to one worker.

The biggest offender was Arta Restaurant in Glasgow which neglected to pay £45,124 to 2,895 workers.

Both Foot Locker and French Connection cited errors in the way staff uniform policy was conducted for being responsible for the violations.

Foot Locker failed to pay £16,718.25 to 601 workers (an average of £27 each) and French Connection underpaid £16,436.05 to 367 workers (an average of £44 each).

A Foot Locker spokeswoman told WSB: "Foot Locker did at all times pay associates legislated minimum wages; however, it was brought to our attention that the cost of trainers, which store associates are required to wear as part of our dress code, was not consistently deducted as a wage offset. In 2014, we reimbursed all effected associates and have updated our dress code to ensure ongoing compliance with minimum wage requirements."

A French Connection spokeswoman additionally cited the use of pre-shift meetings as well in it inadvertently paying employees less than the minimum wage.

"One aspect concerned adjustments for uniform allowances for employees who left a short time after starting work with us, and the second concerned the practice in a small number of stores of holding occasional short staff meetings ranging from five to seven minutes prior to shifts formally starting.

"French Connection co-operated fully with HMRC in assessing the amounts involved and paid the arrears at the earliest possible opportunity. We have also introduced additional administrative checks which will prevent this happening in the future. Whilst these underpayments were regrettable, in many cases the amounts involved were small.

"French Connection fully supports the UK Government's minimum wage legislation and we are apologising to our staff for the inconvenience," she added.

Last month SSE was named after a salary sacrifice error led to it underpaying staff the minimum wage.

Posted: Mon 30 Mar 2015
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