Two Lancashire restaurants in minimum wage ‘named and shamed’ list

STEVEN Smith, chef-patron of the Freemasons at Wiswell in Lancashire, has defended the business after it was named in a government report for not paying the national minimum wage.

The company SS Pubco Limited, which trades as the Freemasons Arms, was said in the report to have failed to pay £1,166.85 to two workers.

Another hospitality business in Lancashire named was In-Portofino, trading as Portofino restaurant in Lytham St Annes, which failed to pay £1,976.15 to six workers.

Smith (pictured) said he was upset by the venue being included in the list revealed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and claimed it had been a “misunderstanding”.

“It’s not the way we conduct ourselves,” he told the Lancashire Telegraph. “Sometimes it’s too easy to complain. We have taken steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

As well as “naming and shaming” the 233 employers identified in  the report, the government has fined them £1.9m collectively for illegally underpaying workers.

The hospitality industry was one of the most “prolific” offenders, along with retail and hairdressing, the report said. There are around 50 hospitality employers on the list, which equates to roughly £77,000 arrears for around 220 workers.

Business minister Margot James said: “It is against the law to pay workers less than legal minimum wage rates, short-changing ordinary working people and undercutting honest employers.

“Today’s naming round identifies a record £2m of back pay for workers and sends the clear message to employers that the Government will come down hard on those who break the law.”

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