An East Lancashire takeaway has been named and shamed by the government for failing to pay more than £2,000 to its staff.

Freddy's Chicken and Pizza in Hyndburn, which was owned by Alaska Fast Foods Ltd, failed to pay seven of its workers a total of £2,180.93 over a two year period.

Following a government investigation between 2016 and 2018, which looked into rogue employers who failed to pay the minimum wage, Alaska Fast Foods Ltd, which was dissolved in 2019, was found to be flagrantly breaching employment laws.

The takeaway was among hundreds of companies named by the government for failing to pay the national minimum wage, including Regional Buildings Assessments LLP in Hyndburn, who failed to pay £562.89 to two workers and Helio Leisure Limited, trading as Helio Fitness, in Fylde, who failed to pay £7,298.69 to 26 workers.

Almost 140 companies, including some major household names, who short-changed their employees, have now been fined after the government found they failed to pay millions of pounds to their workers, in a completely unacceptable breach of employment law.

Business Minister Paul Scully said the list should be a ‘wake-up call’ to rogue bosses, as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy relaunched its naming and shaming scheme after a two-year pause.

He said: "Paying the minimum wage is not optional, it is the law.

"It is never acceptable for any employer to short-change their workers, but it is especially disappointing to see huge household names who absolutely should know better on this list.

"This should serve as a wake-up call to named employers and a reminder to everyone of the importance of paying workers what they are legally entitled to.

"Make no mistake, those who fail to follow minimum wage rules will be caught out and made to pay up."

Takeaway's leaflet accused of misleading customers over hygiene rating

Investigated between 2016 and 2018, the 139 named companies failed to pay £6.7million to more than 95,000 workers.

The offending companies range in size from small businesses to large multinationals who employ thousands of people across the UK.

Preserving and enforcing workers’ rights is a priority for the government and while the vast majority of businesses follow the law and uphold workers’ rights, the publication of the list on New Year's Eve, was intended to serve as a warning to rogue employers that the government will take action against those who fail to pay their employees properly.

This is the first time the government has named and shamed companies for failing to pay national minimum wage since 2018, following reforms to the process to ensure only the worst offenders were targeted.

One of the main causes of minimum wage breaches was low-paid employees being made to cover work costs, which would eat into their pay packet, such as paying for uniform, training or parking fees.

Also, some employers failed to raise employees’ pay after they had a birthday which should have moved them into a different national minimum wage bracket.

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 hefty financial penalties of up to 200 per cent of arrears - capped at £10,000 per worker - which are paid to the government.

%image('12189313', type='article-full', caption='Freddy's came under fire in the summer for their misleading takeaway leaflets', alt='Freddy's came under fire in the summer for their misleading takeaway leaflets')

Bryan Sanderson, Chair of the Low Pay Commission, said: "There can be no excuses for non-compliance with the minimum wage rates.

"The annual changes are well publicised six months in advance following a well understood process.

"Those affected are among the most needy and vulnerable in our country - the companies concerned should be deeply ashamed of their performance."

Each of the companies named have paid back their workers, and were forced to pay financial penalties.

While not all breaches of minimum wage rules are intentional, it is the responsibility of all employers to ensure they are following the law.

The companies the government has named were served a notice of underpayment between September 2016 and July 2018, following investigations by HMRC.

Last month, the government announced a measured increase in national living wage and national minimum wage rates, which will come into effect from April 2021.

Every worker is entitled to the national minimum wage, no matter their age or profession.

The full list of companies named for failing to pay the national minimum wage can be found by clicking on this link or visiting the website.

  • Helio Leisure Limited, trading as Helio Fitness, Fylde FY3, failed to pay £7,298.69 to 26 workers
  • Alaska Fast Foods Ltd - Dissolved 05/02/2019, trading as Freddy’s Chicken & Pizza, Hyndburn M21, failed to pay £2,180.93 to seven workers
  • Regional Buildings Assessments LLP, Hyndburn BB1, failed to pay £562.89 to two workers

The national minimum wage rates from April 1 2020 are as follows:

  • 25 and over - £8.72
  • 21 to 24 - £8.20
  • 18 to 20 - £6.45
  • Under 18 - £4.55
  • Apprentice - £4.15