About 37,000 current and former staff of retailer Argos will receive an average £64 back payment for money owed to them after they were underpaid.
This payment will be made via BACS and paid directly into affected staff members’ bank accounts on 28 February.
The issue, which is believed to have occurred for a few years prior to December 2016, relates to the timings of colleague briefings, which could happen before colleagues had clocked into their shifts, and to security searches, which could happen after colleagues had clocked out of their shifts – meaning they wouldn’t have been paid for this work.
These staff members were all supposed to be paid the hourly National Living Wage, which currently stands at £7.20 for those aged 25 and over.
The underpayments came to light as part of a “routine” HMRC visit to Argos before it was acquired by Sainsbury’s in September 2016. Sainsbury’s, however, says it wasn’t aware of this problem prior to the sale.
Argos says it has since introduced new processes to ensure this doesn’t happen again in future.
John Rogers, chief executive of Argos, said in a statement to staff: “I am obviously disappointed to have to be giving you the news of this issue today, but Sainsbury's prides itself on open communications with colleagues and this includes when things don't go as we would like as well as when we are able to celebrate success.”
He added: “Without doubt colleagues make the difference to Argos and we are looking at pay and benefits across the business. We are pleased that we have already been able to make a number of positive changes, including extending the discount on Sainsbury’s shopping to all Argos colleagues and, as you are already aware, we are proposing to give most Argos store colleagues a 2% pay increase and to move the basic rate of pay for our over 25 Zone B and C colleagues from £7.20 to £7.66 an hour.”