Takeaway underpaid worker by more than £18k

Vong's Hot Food Bar, Scarva Road, Banbridge. Pic by Google
Vong's Hot Food Bar, Scarva Road, Banbridge. Pic by Google

A Banbridge takeaway has been named and shamed for underpaying a worker by more than £18,000.

Vong’s Welcome Limited, trading as Vong’s Hot Food Bar, failed to pay £18,575.34 to one worker, according to the government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Scarva Road takeaway was ranked fifth on a list of more than 230 UK employers named this week by the department for underpaying their workers the National Minimum or Living Wage.

The current owner of Vong’s Hot Food Bar, Helen Lau, said she only took over the business in November 2016 and stressed that she has “no knowledge of the issues raised by the department.”

In total, 13 Northern Ireland businesses were named on the latest government list. Together they underpaid their workers by a total of more than £29,000.

The others were:

• Mrs Joan Greenan trading as Shape ‘N’ Style, Newry, Mourne and Down BT34, failed to pay £1,886.71 to two workers

• Mr Joseph McCaughley and Mrs Martina McCaughley trading as Head Office Salon, Newry, Mourne and Down BT24, failed to pay £1,702.30 to three workers.

• Mr Mark Robinson trading as Soul Hairdressing, Belfast BT5, failed to pay £1,699.67 to four workers.

• Mr John Dickson trading as Darling’s Hair Salon, Antrim and Newtownabbey BT37, failed to pay £1,051.96 to one worker.

• Donnelly Bros. (Belfast) Limited, Antrim and Newtownabbey BT36, failed to pay £771.34 to four workers.

• CDE Global Limited, Mid Ulster BT80, failed to pay £768.91 to one worker.

• Roadside Motors (Lurgan) Limited, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon BT66, failed to pay £601.41 to one worker.

• Big Tree Joinery Ltd, Lisburn and Castlereagh BT27, failed to pay £581.25 to two workers.

• Belfast Activity Centre, Belfast BT9, failed to pay £531.68 to one worker.

• Gifted Hairdressing Ltd, Newry, Mourne and Down BT35, failed to pay £482.37 to one worker.

• JMW Farms Ltd, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon BT60, failed to pay £392.98 to one worker.

• Beechvale Nursing Home Limited, Ards and North Down BT23, failed to pay £108.70 to three workers.

As well as paying back staff the money owed, employers on the list have been fined a record £1.9 million by the government.

Since 2013, the scheme has identified £6 million back pay for 40,000 workers, with 1,200 employers fined £4 million.

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.

“This naming round identifies a record £2 million 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.

“Common errors made by employers in this round included deducting money from pay packets to pay for uniforms, failure to account for overtime hours, and wrongly paying apprentice rates to workers.”

Melissa Tatton, Director at HM Revenue and Customs, said: “HMRC is committed to getting money back into the pockets of underpaid workers, and continues to crack down on employers who ignore the law.

“Those not paying workers the National Minimum or Living Wage can expect to face the consequences.”