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H&M blames UK minimum wage breach on 'logging error'

The UK government has named fashion retailer H&M among 36 other UK businesses failing to pay their workers the national minimum wage.

Business minister Jo Swinson named the retail firm in a list published today (15 January) for its failure to pay 540 of its workers' wages higher than the minimum wage, which currently sits at £6.50 per hour for those over 21 years old.

The 37 firms owe a total of £177,000 to workers – with H&M accounting for £2,605 of that figure.

Jo Swinson said: “Paying less than the minimum wage is illegal, immoral and completely unacceptable. If employers break this law they need to know that we will take tough action by naming, shaming and fining them as well as helping workers recover the hundreds of thousands of pounds in pay owed to them.

“We are also looking at what more we can do to make sure workers are paid fairly in the first place. As well as being publicly named and shamed, employers that fail to pay their workers the National Minimum Wage face penalties of up to £20,000.”

H&M blamed its appearance on the list on a logging error in a statement: "H&M employs over 9,500 people in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately due to errors within some of our stores concerning time logging, 540 employees were accidentally underpaid the national minimum wage.

"The average underpayment for those affected was £4.82. All such arrears were immediately processed and we accept that the errors should not have occurred. HMRC have confirmed that they were happy with H&M's complete transparency cooperation and full engagement with the process."

HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) National Minimum Wage enforcement budget has also been increased by £3m to £12m to help crack down on offending companies.

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