Leading Northern Ireland food firms failed to pay their staff minimum wage
Two of Northern Ireland's most famous food companies, Moy Park and Tayto, have been named in the Government's latest list of firms that failed to pay staff the minimum wage.
Eight local firms are on the list of 179 companies HM Revenue & Customs found were underpaying more than 9,000 minimum wage workers by £1.1m.
The eight Northern Ireland companies included on the list failed to pay a total of £68,090 to some 777 employees.
Poultry giant Moy Park, which is based in Craigavon, failed to pay a total of £33,547.57 to 338 workers, according to the list.
A Moy Park spokesperson said: "As soon as this isolated example of underpayment was identified we apologised to those affected and ensured reimbursement. As a responsible employer we have taken steps to ensure this issue cannot reoccur."
Crisps giant Tayto Group, which is based in Tandragee, owed £2,236.14 to 50 workers. A spokesperson for the firm confirmed they were advised of a "potential small inadvertent breach" of national minimum wage regulations in late 2016.
Tayto said it was informed about the amounts owed on March 20 last year, and it was paid to staff by April 4. Potato brand Wilson's Country in Craigavon failed to pay £24,560.53 to 63 workers.
Chief executive Angus Wilson described the breach, which was incurred over six years, as "innocent and unintended".
He said it related to a technicality around uniform changing procedures for some members of staff and added the company had since repaid the affected staff.
As well as recovering back pay for 9,200 workers, the Government also fined UK employers a total of £1.3m in penalties for breaking wage laws.
It comes ahead of the next rate rise on April 1, when the national living wage will go up from £7.50 to £7.83 per hour. Apprentices under the age of 19 and those in the first year of their apprenticeship will benefit from a 5.7% rise.
UK-wide, Japanese restaurant chain Wagamama, which has one outlet in Belfast, was the worst offender - failing to pay £133,212.42 to 2,630 workers.
Belfast-based QCS Contract Cleaning owed 237 workers a total of £2,952.19, while Extra Care for Elderly People in Antrim failed to pay £1,775.79 to six employees. Ritcin Limited, trading as Starbucks, failed to pay £1,592.79 to 79 workers in Belfast.
Elsewhere, Europa Foods Distribution in Coleraine owed a total of £976.55 to two employees, while DK Leisure Ltd, trading as Bushtown Hotel in Coleraine, failed to pay £448.13 to two workers.
A spokesperson for Bushtown Hotel explained that this was down to a computer virus which affected their payroll systems last year.