Wagamama and TGI Friday's fined for failing to pay minimum wage

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Wagamama and TGI Friday's fined for failing to pay minimum wage
Wagamama has blamed confusion over staff uniform costs for its inclusion on a list of employers fined by the government for failing to pay the minimum wage.

The restaurant chain was among 43 hospitality companies, including TGI Friday's, ‘named and shamed’​ by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Wagamama failed to pay £133,212 to 2,630 workers, while TGI Friday’s had to repay £59,347 to 2,302 staff. Both companies have been fined an undisclosed amount.

Wagamama said there had been an “inadvertent misunderstanding” of how minimum wage regulations related to uniform costs.

A spokesperson said: “In the past we didn’t realise that asking our front-of-house staff to wear casual black jeans or a skirt, with their Wagamama branded top, was considered as asking them to buy a form of uniform and so we should have paid them for it.

“Lots of other businesses were also unaware of this regulation around casual wear.

“We have gladly made payments to current and previous employees who missed out, dating back from 2016 to 2013. We have also updated our uniform policy and we now pay a uniform supplement to cover the black jeans.”

TGI Friday’s said it had reimbursed team members after asking them to buy black shoes for their staff uniform.

“This is a historic payment which was paid last year, and we have since reimbursed team members,” the company said.

Global group Marriott Hotels also made the list, and had to repay £71,722.93 to 279 workers.

Marriott told The Guardian​ some hotels had deducted charges for live-in accommodation or late-night taxis from wages, pushing pay below the minimum wage, but the company has since updated its payroll system to avoid a repetition.

A total of 179 companies were named by the government for failing to pay 9,200 workers £1.1m.

The legal minimum wage for over 25-year-olds will rise from £7.50 to £7.83 on 1 April.

Business minister Andrew Griffiths said there was “no excuse” for employers “short-changing” workers.

“This is an absolute red line for this Government and employers who cross it will get caught - not only are they forced to pay back every penny but they are also fined up to 200% of wages owed,” he said.

“Today’s naming round serves as a sharp reminder to employers to get their house in order ahead of minimum wage rate rises on 1 April.”

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