Football club ends work experience after minimum wage shaming
A Championship football club has said being named for failing to pay the minimum wage means it has been "forced to close the door" on its work experience programme.
Brighton and Hove Albion said its reputation had been "unfairly tarnished" after it appeared on a government list of almost 200 employers named and shamed for not paying workers the legal minimum rate.
The club said it was "very disappointed" and that the case was a "minor administrative error" which resulted from being "over generous" in paying expenses to someone on work experience two years ago.
A spokesman said: "As a business we feel our reputation as a responsible employer has been very unfairly tarnished. We are one of the few clubs who pays its staff over and above the national living wage."
The club added it was "a shame" it had to "close the door to many graduates" seeking work experience because many people on previous placements had "gone on to win successful job roles across the football and sports industry".
Blackpool FC was also included in the report, with each club accused of failing to pay one employee the correct amount.
Last year the Mail on Sunday reported the average basic pay in the Championship was £324,250 per player per year, before appearance money and bonuses, while it was £40,350 in League Two.
Business minister Margot James said: "It is not acceptable that some employers fail to pay at least the minimum wage their workers are entitled to.
"So we'll continue to crack down on those who ignore the law, including by naming and shaming them."
The living wage of £7.20 for workers aged 25 and over was introduced in April, giving a pay rise of more than £900 a year for someone previously working full time on the national minimum wage.
The national minimum wage still applies to workers under 25.
There have been 10 rounds of naming and shaming since 2013, with £3.5 million arrears recovered for 12,908 workers from almost 700 employers.
The latest list was the biggest of its kind, with more than £466,000 owed in arrears by employers ranging from football clubs, hotels and care homes to hairdressers and a gun club.
League two side Blackpool FC confirmed one of its 300 employees had been paid below the national minimum wage in the 2014/15 season.
A statement on its website said: "Although this was initially disputed, the matter has now been fully addressed and robust procedures are in place to ensure full compliance with the legislation in future.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Bosses who try to duck the minimum wage must have nowhere to hide. It is deeply disappointing to see so many companies fail to honour their basic obligations to their workers. The level of underpayment in some cases is truly eye-watering.
"Ministers are absolutely right to name and shame these companies, but we also need to see prosecutions for the worst offenders."
The full list is at www.gov.uk/government/news/largest-ever-list-of-national-minimum-wage-offenders-published