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Estée Lauder among companies named and shamed for failing to meet UK minimum wage

Sophie Smith
23 February 2024

The Estée Lauder Companies has been named as part of a list of 524 businesses that did not pay some staff the UK minimum wage.

The company's Westminster-based Estée Lauder Cosmetics Limited had failed to pay £894,980.43 to 5,933 workers.

It attributed the error to "misinterpreted guidance", confirming that all the affected employees had been reimbursed.

"The Estée Lauder Companies has never intentionally paid our valued colleagues less than the minimum wage, read a statement on behalf of the Estée Lauder Companies.

"In 2019, like many other companies, we were made aware that we had misinterpreted guidance from HM Revenue & Customs on the way in which payment was taken for voluntary staff purchases of our concession products and on staff clothing requirements. We immediately made sure all affected employees were informed and reimbursed and updated our procedures."

The investigations by HM Revenue & Customs were concluded between 2015 and 2023, according to an official statement.

Estée Lauder appeared alongside other brands, including Easyjet, which failed to pay £338,876.46 to 3,898 workers, as well as Moss Bros and River Island, which underpaid 1,303 and 1,007 workers a total of £188,199.04 and £57,841.14, respectively. 

The Government confirmed that the 524 businesses have since paid back what they owed staff and have also faced financial penalties of up to 200% of their underpayment.

Kevin Hollinrake, Minister for Enterprise, Markets & Small Business, said: "Employees deserve to get paid properly for the hard work they put in.

"While the majority of businesses already pay their staff what they are owed, today’s announcement sends a message to the minority who aren’t - that there are repercussions to undercutting hard work from their staff."

The UK’s national minimum wage currently sits at £10.42 for those aged 23 and over, but is set to increase to £11.44 an hour for those aged 21 and over from 1 April 2024.

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