These well-known companies are secretly underpaying their staff

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • Does the company you work for make the list? If it does, you might have been underpaid


    Words by Jadie Troy-Pryde

    Ever feel like you’re not paid enough for the job you’re doing? What if you found out the company you work for had been shortchanging you by thousands of pounds?

    It should never happen, but unfortunately that’s exactly what some big businesses are doing in the UK, and thanks to a list published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy we now know who the main offenders are.

    The government decided to name and shame over 350 companies that have shortchanged their employees by just under £1 million, and some of them are your everyday, go-to brands.

    Apparently, a couple of reasons they docked employees wages was because their tips top up their pay or they had to pay out for Christmas parties.

    Yes, really.

    The businesses came under fire for either failing to pay the national minimum wage or the national living wage, which as of last year was set at £7.20 an hour for those over 25.

    Ready to see which businesses are exploiting their workers the most?

    In the top spot is the much-loved high-street department store, Debenhams, which the list found to have underpaid 11,858 workers by £134,894.83.

    Other well-known companies include Monsoon and Accessorize, as well as football clubs such as Brighton, Hove Albion and Blackpool.

    A spokesperson for Debenhams said: ‘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.

    ‘We have apologised to all our colleagues affected and have taken steps to ensure it cannot happen again.’

    Knightsbridge restaurant Osteria San Lorenzo also faced backlash as owner Lorenzo Berni was found to have underpaid workers by more than £53,000.

    The 359 companies were required to pay the total £995,233 back to their shortchanged employees, and have been fined. You can find the full list here.

    But Steve Turner of the trade union, Unite, called the few prosecutions ‘pathetic’.

    He said: ‘In America, bad bosses are jailed and heavily fined for ‘wage theft’, which is what this is, exploiting workers in such a shameful fashion.’

    Do you work for a company on the list? Let us know how you’ve been affected @Marieclaireuk via Facebook or Twitter. 

    Reading now