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Debenhams and Peacocks named for failing to pay minimum wage

Debenhams and Peacocks have been named and shamed in a list of 360 companies for failing to pay some workers the national living wage.

Debenhams failed to pay £134,894.83 to 11,858 workers, while Peacocks did not pay £2,256.58 to 42 workers.

In total, 360 employers have underpaid 15,520 workers by £995,233, the list published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy shows. Employers in the hairdressing, hospitality and retail sectors were the most prolific offenders.

Revenue and Customs recovered arrears for the workers and issued penalties totalling around £800,000.

For the first time, the list includes employers that failed to pay eligible workers at least the new national living wage rate, which is currently £7.20/hour for workers aged 25 and over.

A spokesman for Debenhams said the issue related to a technical error in its payroll calculations, which resulted in an average underpayment of around £10 per person to the affected colleagues in 2015.

“As a responsible employer Debenhams is committed to the national minimum wage, and as soon as the error was identified by a routine HMRC audit last year, we reimbursed all those affected,” he said. “We have apologised to all our colleagues affected and have taken steps to ensure it cannot happen again.”

A spokesman for Peacocks said: “Fundamentally we do not underpay our staff, they tell us that they prefer to receive a monthly salary based on the average hours they work rather than a fluctuating amount each month.

“This means their monthly pay is sometimes greater than the hours they have worked during that month, and on occasion, it is less. This is purely a timing issue based on the preferences of our employees and no one is underpaid over the year.” 


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