The Body Shop ‘named and shamed’ for not paying minimum wage

The Body Shop has been included in a list of almost 200 businesses that have failed to pay workers the minimum wage.

The Body Shop distribution centre in Littlehampton. Picture: Google Street View SUS-190315-160757001
The Body Shop distribution centre in Littlehampton. Picture: Google Street View SUS-190315-160757001

An investigation by HM Revenue and Customs found a total of 191 companies failed to pay £2.1 million to more than 34,000 workers.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said The Body Shop International Limited, based in Arun, failed to pay £34,670.81 to 959 workers.

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A spokesman for The Body Shop said: “The Body Shop is committed to paying all our own UK employees the UK Real Living Wage.

“We fully co-operated with HMRC during a routine audit in 2018 which identified that we needed to reimburse a number of store-based employees for uniform costs. This was to cover clothing that our store-based colleagues wore in our stores from 2015-2018; a time when the company was transitioning from its previous ownership

“The affected employees, which include previous and current employees, were reimbursed and our case was closed in 2018. We also reviewed our uniform policy to allow our employees to wear their own clothes to reflect their individual styles and personalities whilst working in our stores.”

The government said the breaches took place between 2011 and 2018.

Almost half (47 per cent) of breaches included pay being wrongly deducted from workers’ wages for things including uniforms and expenses.

Another 30 per cent related to firms failing to pay workers for all the time they had worked, such as when they worked overtime. And 19 per cent paid the incorrect apprenticeship rate.

The government said not all minimum wage underpayments were intentional but reminded employers it was their responsibility to abid by the law.

Business Minister Paul Scully said: “Our minimum wage laws are there to ensure a fair day’s work gets a fair day’s pay – it is unacceptable for any company to come up short.

“All employers, including those on this list, need to pay workers properly.

“This Government will continue to protect workers’ rights vigilantly, and employers that short-change workers won’t get off lightly.”

Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back arrears of wages to the worker at current minimum wage rates. They also face financial penalties of up to 200 per cent of arrears – capped at £20,000 per worker – which are paid to the government.

Chair of the Low Pay Commission Bryan Sanderson said: “These are very difficult times for all workers, particularly those on low pay who are often undertaking critical tasks in a variety of key sectors including care. The minimum wage provides a crucial level of support and compliance is essential for the benefit of both the recipients and our society as a whole.”