Don’t fall foul of national minimum wage legislation
High street name Sports Direct has hit the headlines after the retailer admitted not paying its warehouse workers the national minimum wage.
The union Unite has confirmed that thousands of workers will receive back pay totalling an estimated £1 million following an admission by Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley at a hearing of the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills select committee in June that his company had failed to pay the national minimum wage.
The retailer was found to have not paid workers at its warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, the national minimum wage because of searches at the end of shifts which extended the working day but for which employees were not paid.
But employers must recognise that workers must be paid for the whole time they are required to be at work, even if they are not doing what is typically classed as their job role.
Mark Ridley, employment lawyer at Band Hatton Button solicitors, said: "Employers must ensure that their employees are paid for any time they are required to be at work. In the case of Sports Direct, staff were required to wait to be searched before they could leave, this wasn't voluntary.
"This could also arise if, for example, an employer sought to require their employees to be at their desks a certain amount of time before the start of the working day. If workers are on the national minimum wage this extra time would take them below it.
"Even though they may not be working while sat at their desks, they are still required to be there and should be paid accordingly.
"Not paying employees for the time they are required to be at work may result in personal claims being made, which could amount to a significant sum depending on how many workers have been affected.
"Another risk is that companies are being named and shamed which could result in reputational damage."
If you require any further advice on the national minimum wage, contact Mark Ridley.