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Five ABC firms outed by HMRC for failing to pay staff minimum wage

The companies named in the list have since paid back what they owed to their workers, but have also faced financial penalties.

Five companies from the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area failed to pay staff the minimum wage, a UK-wide probe has found.

They are among nine Northern Ireland employers named by the Department for Business and Trade for breaching the minimum wage law.

This followed a lengthy investigation by HMRC.

Those identified range from poultry companies and food manufacturers to small businesses and sole traders.

The biggest sum owed in Northern Ireland was by Markethill-based Victor Foster Poultry Services Limited, which owed £33,045.17 to 284 workers.

Armagh I attempted to contact the company for a response, but the listed telephone number did not connect when dialled.

The next was Avondale Foods. The Craigavon firm failed to pay £9,007.35 to 149 workers. Avondale were approached for comment.

Reahs Restaurant Ltd,  trading as The Portmor in Blackwatertown, owed £3,292 to eight workers, while 727 Your Store Limited in Craigavon owed £580.37 to one worker.

Finally, Magheralin-based Edenmore Golf & Country Club Ltd owed £506.52 to 11 workers.

According to the Department for Business and Trade, the investigation concluded between 2017 and 2019.

The companies named in the list have since paid back what they owed to their workers, but have also faced financial penalties.

In total, 202 employers across the UK were ordered to repay workers and face penalties of nearly £7 million after breaches left 63,000 workers out of pocket.

Each of the employers were found to have failed to pay their workers almost £5 million in a clear breach of National Minimum Wage law.

Thirty-nine per cent of the employers underpaid workers by deducting pay from their wages. Also, 39 per cent of employers failed to pay workers correctly for their working time, while 21 per cent of employers paid the incorrect apprenticeship rate.

Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business Kevin Hollinrake said: “Paying the legal minimum wage is non-negotiable and all businesses, whatever their size, should know better than to short-change hard-working staff.

“Most businesses do the right thing and look after their employees, but we’re sending a clear message to the minority who ignore the law: pay your staff properly or you’ll face the consequences.”

Bryan Sanderson, Chair of the Low Pay Commission, added: “The minimum wage acts as a guarantee to ensure all workers without exception receive a decent minimum standard of pay. Where employers break the law, they not only do a disservice to their staff but also undermine fair competition between businesses.

“Regular naming rounds should be a useful tool in raising awareness of underpayment and helping to protect minimum wage workers.”

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