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Asian business among 524 companies fined for flouting minimum wage norms

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ASIAN entrepreneur Ranjit Boparan’s 2 Sisters Food Group Limited is among 500 UK companies who failed to pay their employees the minimum wage.

The Department of Business and Trade on Tuesday (20) named 524 employers – that include some high street names – who have been ordered to repay workers nearly £16 million, plus an additional financial penalty, after breaches left over 172,000 workers out of pocket.

The investigations were done by HMRC between 2015 and 2023.

Among those named were 2 Sisters Food Group Limited, Wakefield, which failed to pay £130,887.72 to 395 workers.

Boparan, known as chicken king, as he supplies poultry products to most British supermarkets, set up 2 Sisters Food Group, which he runs with his wife Baljinder Kaur.

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Customers of 2 Sisters Food Group include Aldi, Asda, Co-op, KFC, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.

The Boparan couple’s combined wealth is estimated to be £920 million, according to the 2023 Asian Rich List, published by Eastern Eye.

Other companies named by the government included Estee Lauder Cosmetics Limited, which failed to pay £894,980.43 to 5,933 workers.

Easyjet failed to pay £338,876.46 to 3,898 workers, while Greggs failed to pay £219,129.07 to 4,793 workers.

Minister for enterprise, markets and small business, Kevin Hollinrake, said, “Employees deserve to get paid properly for the hard work they put in.

“While the majority of businesses already do the right thing and pay their staff what they are owed. Today’s announcement sends a message to the minority who aren’t – that there are repercussions to undercutting hard work from their staff.”

As per the data, 183 employers (35 per cent) had made deductions from workers’ wages and breached the minimum wage norm.

Among the reasons cited by the employers include food costs, workers’ dress costs, parking permits or travel costs, training costs, equipment costs, and salary sacrifice schemes to provide pension and employer benefits.

Around 160 employers (31 per cent) did not pay workers for working time and failed to observe minimum wage stipulations. They also did not pay for overtime, delayed workers’ salaries and travel dues, and manipulated clock-in time to their advantage.

Nearly 82 employers (16 per cent) paid incorrect apprenticeship rates, and employees were paid less than minimum wages.

Around 55 employers had failed to pay the uprated minimum wages to eligible employees.

The businesses named in the list have since paid back what they owe to their staff and faced financial penalties of up to 200 per cent of their underpayment.

This action comes as the National Living Wage is set to increase by 9.8 per cent to £11.44 an hour from April 1. This increase will see a 21.2 per cent pay rise for 16–17-year-olds working on minimum wages.

Independent Commissioner at the Low Pay Commission, Patricia Rice, said, “Since its introduction nearly 25 years ago, the national minimum wage has played a vital role in protecting the earnings of the lowest-paid workers in the UK. At a time when the cost of living is rising, it is more important than ever that these workers receive the pay to which they are entitled.”

 

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