Clothes retailer H&M and service station operator Welcome Break are among almost 40 firms to be fined for not paying the minimum wage to staff, with Welcome Break blaming an “IT difficulty” for breaking the law.
H&M blamed its failure to pay the right amount to staff on “time logging errors". Along with the other companies they were named and shamed by the government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The 37 firms were fined a total of £51,000 and must also pay affected staff £177,000 to make up for light pay packets.
The minimum wage for adults aged 21 and over currently stands at £6.50 per hour, and goes down to just £3.79 for those under 18.
H&M failed to pay over £2,600 to 540 workers. It said the average underpayment was only £4.82 and that the affected workers have now received what they were owed.
In the case of Welcome Break, the company failed to pay £1,320 to 20 people, with the underpayments only coming to light when an employee complained when she turned 21 and found she hadn't been paid a higher minimum wage.
After an investigation by the company it was found other staff had experienced the same type of shortfall.
Welcome Break chief executive Rod McKie told the BBC: "These incidents were not as a result of a decision to withhold an increase but resulted from a combination of factors, specifically, a change of management within the units, periods of holiday and a difficulty with a new IT system and set of management processes."
In spring 2012, Welcome Break signed a three-year extension for the provision of IT services with Phoenix, which has supplied IT to Welcome Break since 2005.
Image © iStock/digitalimagination