Gov 'names and shames' pubcos for underpaying staff

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Rules flouted: MP Kevin Hollinrake says ‘paying the legal minimum wage is non-negotiable and all businesses’ (credit: Getty/shisheng ling)
Rules flouted: MP Kevin Hollinrake says ‘paying the legal minimum wage is non-negotiable and all businesses’ (credit: Getty/shisheng ling)

Related tags Pubco + head office Multi-site pub operators Finance Legislation

The Government has 'named and shamed' more than 200 companies for failing to pay their lowest paid staff the minimum wage – and a number of pubcos have made the list which dates between 2017 and 2019.

Brunning & Price, Hall & Woodhouse, Hickory’s, Bar Lounge, Few Inns and Whitbread have all been cited by the Department for Business and Trade and Kevin Hollinrake MP.

The Restaurant Group-owned Brunning & Price has been listed as failing to pay £98,675.37 to 1,500 workers, Blandford-based Hall & Woodhouse failed to pay £14,354.5 to 23 workers and Hickory’s, which trades as Hickory’s Smokehouse failed to pay £14,141.12 to 157 workers.

Meanwhile, Bampton-based Few Inns Limited failed to pay £3,756.10 to 6 workers; Whitbread Group, which counts Brewers Fayre as one of its brands, failed to pay £1,118.37 to 1 worker; and Bar Lounge Limited failed to pay £951.17 to 23 workers.

A Brunning & Price spokesperson said: “These historic underpayments relate to a misinterpretation of rules on staff dress code and to the recording of time spent on online training when off-site.

“We have gladly made the appropriate payments to current and previous employees and have updated our policies and processes accordingly.”

Hall & Woodhouse stated: “Our hourly pay has always met or exceeded minimum wage, and Hall & Woodhouse has paid all team members the real living wage as a minimum since 2021.

“We were made aware of an unintentional technical error relating to uniform and deduction policy during an audit by HMRC in 2018. We rectified the administrative issue and promptly reimbursed affected team members.”

Uniform policy

Hickory’s said: “We were made aware by HMRC of a genuine oversight with our uniform policy back in 2019, which we rectified with our teams affected immediately.”

Whitbread told The Morning Advertiser​: “Our inclusion on the list from BEIS stems from an isolated single issue relating to one employee that took place in 2018.

“This was due to an administrative error at one hotel that resulted in overtime not being properly captured and therefore the extra hours unfortunately went unpaid – a position that was gladly resolved at the time.

“While we don’t deny that the issue occurred, it was five years ago, it was a one-off and it was rectified very quickly.”

Few Inns’ pubs the Bell, Standlake, and the Boot Inn, Barnard Gate, in Oxfordshire, have both closed permanently.

Bar Lounge was contacted for comment.

In total, UK employers were found to have failed to pay their workers almost £5m in a breach of national minimum wage (NMW) law and face penalties of almost £7m after the incidents left 63,000 workers out of pocket.

Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business Kevin Hollinrake said: “Paying the legal minimum wage is non-negotiable and all businesses, whatever their size, should know better than to short-change hard-working staff.”

Clear message

Hollinrake continued: “Most businesses do the right thing and look after their employees, but we’re sending a clear message to the minority who ignore the law: pay your staff properly or you’ll face the consequences.

“The businesses named in today’s list have since paid back what they owe to their staff and have also faced financial penalties.”

The employers named had previously underpaid workers in the following ways:

  • 39% of employers deducted pay from workers’ wages.
  • 39% of employers failed to pay workers correctly for their working time.
  • 21% of employers paid the incorrect apprenticeship rate.

The Low Pay Commission chair Bryan Sanderson said: “The minimum wage acts as a guarantee to ensure all workers without exception receive a decent minimum standard of pay.

“Where employers break the law, they not only do a disservice to their staff but also undermine fair competition between businesses.

“Regular naming rounds should be a useful tool in raising awareness of underpayment and helping to protect minimum wage workers.

“The Government has been clear that anyone entitled to be paid the minimum wage should receive it, and that robust enforcement action will be taken against employers who do not pay their staff correctly.”

The investigations concluded between 2017 and 2019.

Related topics Training

Related news

Show more