A call for “more context” has been issued after Harratts, Marshall Motor Group and Vertu Motors appeared in the HMRC’s ‘name and shame’ list of businesses who failed to pay the National Minimum Wage.
The three car retail groups appeared in a list of 191 businesses published by the Government body earlier this month, but Marshall CEO Daksh Gupta and a statement from Vertu revealed that their appearance in the list had resulted from historic technical issues which had been identified and resolved.
The situation has prompted Gupta to ask for a revision of Government’s process for reporting instances of non-payment of the National Minimum Wage.
He said: “I am wholly supportive of the publication of the list and Government’s ‘name and shame’ approach for those businesses that are flagrantly breaching minimum wage rules.
“It’s important that we’re all aware of those companies and they are brought to account, but in other cases there has to be more context.
“In our case the listing relates back to 2017 and a technical issue related to a scheme we’d devised to help boost the pay of new starters.”
Gupta said Marshall had launched a scheme in 2017 to deliver an advance payment to new starters in order to relieve financial pressure as they got up-to-speed in the commission-based car retail environment.
In 16 instances staff left the business after a short period, however, and efforts to retrieve the money handed over by Marshall resulted in a wage calculation which fell short of the National Minimum Wage for part of their period of employment.
Gupta told AM that the funds had been handed back and changes had now been made to its salary support scheme to ensure there would be not repeat of the issue.
He said: “We made the change as soon as we identified the problem and plan to continue to support new starters in every way we can.”
Gupta also highlighted the group’s payment of 90% of furloughed employees wages in 2020 and a recent backdated pay review and “loyalty bonus” for staff as evidence of its desire to exceed industry pay expectations.
Harratts, Marshall Motor Group and Vertu Motors appeared in a list of 191 employers who were found to have underpaid workers, including major household names, which was published earlier this month.
In Marshall’s case, it had initially failed to pay £8,816.31 to 16 workers, according to the HMRC’s list.
The HMRC said that Harratts failed to pay £7,863.82 to 26 workers, while Vertu failed to pay £5901.44 to 63 workers.
A spokesperson for Vertu Motors told AM: “This refers to an historic issue that was resolved.
“The accidental underpayment, an average of £13 per person involved per year, was caused by a complex salary sacrifice scheme and the underpayments were corrected in 2018.”
AM is awaiting a response from Yorkshire car retail business Harratts.