Arcadis failed to pay two employees the national minimum wage, according to a list which the government has put together to “name and shame” companies that short-changed workers.
Two members of staff at the Cardiff office were underpaid a total of £797 between 1 March 2012 and 31 July 2016, which Arcadis said was the result of an “administrative error”.
Arcadis said the two employees had deductions taken from their final pay packets to reimburse the company for training courses. But a mistake led to their total pay falling below the national minimum wage.
Today the government released a list of 179 firms which failed had to pay the correct national minimum wage rates to some of their workers. Business minister Andrew Griffiths called on businesses to “get their house in order” and said there are “no excuses for short-changing workers.”
“This is an absolute red line for this government and employers who cross it will get caught,” he said, “not only are they forced to pay back every penny but they are also fined up to 200% of wages owed.”
Arcadis UK chief executive Alan Brooks said in response: “As a business, we never have and never will knowingly pay our people any less than they are entitled to by law.
“As with many organisations, we fund training for our people on the understanding that they remain with the business for a pre-agreed period of time after the course has been completed. This situation came about as a result of two employees having voluntarily undertaken a training courses then having elected to leave the business before this time had elapsed.
“The terms of this agreement were freely entered into by both employees and, as mutually agreed at the time, outstanding costs were then recovered from their final payments. It is this deduction that resulted in an administrative error that saw their total pay falling slightly below the national minimum wage requirement.
“The total value for both of these came in at around £750. As soon as we were made aware of this situation, we fully reimbursed the individuals in question and satisfied all HMRC requirements. As a business, we have rigorously reviewed our internal processes to ensure this does not happen again.”
The government crackdown on companies that underpay workers comes ahead of a minimum wage increase next month. The current minimum wage for adults aged 25 and over is 7.50 per hour which will rise to a £7.83 hourly rate on April 1.
Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back arrears of wages at current minimum wage rates and face fines of up to 200% of arrears, capped at £20,000 per worker.