August 5, 2021 12.03 pm This story is over 33 months old

Scunthorpe nursery failed to pay minimum wage to nine workers

It owed staff more than £2.7k

A nursery in Scunthorpe has been ‘named and shamed’ by the government for failing to pay the minimum wage to nine workers.

Little Tots Nursery (Scunthorpe) Ltd on Oswald Road failed to pay £2,754.06 to nine workers, with the average arrears per worker at the nursery at £306.01.

The nursery is one of 191 businesses named for breaking minimum wage law. Following investigations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, a total of £2.1 million was found to be owed to more than 34,000 workers. This is despite the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage increasing in April this year.

There was no answer all morning when The Lincolnite tried to contact the nursery, as well as no response via email. The nursery’s Facebook page was online earlier in the morning, but appears to have since been taken down as it is no longer available.

A spokeswoman for the nursery responded on Friday, August 6 saying: “We are currently closed due to staff isolating. Our Facebook page had to be removed due to threats from people we don’t even know.

“The minimum wage discrepancy happened nearly five years ago. The guy who came looked through our books back a further five years.

“The problems came about when he spoke to staff and they claimed we did not pay them for charity fun days, the full length of staff meetings and buying additional uniform.

“We are very respectful of our team and value what they do. We are fair and often give staff free childcare when needed. We have staff who have worked for us for 10 years, surely that counts for something.

“We would never intentionally do anything wrong and feel we are being very unfairly treated.”

The latest Ofsted inspection, in 2019, rated Little Tots Nursery as ‘good’.

The breaches of the 191 businesses took place between 2011 and 2018. The government said the named employers have since been made to pay back what they owed, and were fined an additional £3.2 million in total, to show it is never acceptable to underpay workers.

Employers who pay workers less than the minimum wage have to pay back arreas of wages to the worker at the current minimum wage rates.

The employers can also face hefty financial penalties of up to 200% of arrears – capped at £20,000 per worker – which are paid to the government.

It is stated in the report that ‘whilst not all minimum wage underpayments are intentional, it has always been the responsibly of all employers to abide by the law’.

The report said employers had underpaid workers in the following ways:

  • 47% wrongly deducted pay from workers’ wages, including for uniform and expenses
  • 30% failed to pay workers for all the time they had worked, such as when they worked overtime
  • 19% paid the incorrect apprenticeship rate

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.”

The full list of employers named and shamed by the government on Thursday can be found here.