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Hill Cottage Farm owners blame 'mistake' after being named and shamed for underpaying employee

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THE owner of a caravan site near Fordingbridge was named and shamed on a public list for underpaying a minimum-wage worker by £3,351.

Christopher Roche, who runs Hill Cottage Farm, admitted his business had made an "error" in the way it paid the person, who was a general worker in its maintenance team.

The worker, who has since left the firm, was compensated, Mr Roche stressed.

Hill Cottage Farm underpaid the worker over a 17 month period (50047830)
Hill Cottage Farm underpaid the worker over a 17 month period (50047830)

He added the company also paid a fine, although he said he could not recall how much that was.

"It was a clerical error," he told the A&T. "The background of it is we made a mistake and we did not realise until the [government] people pointed it out to us."

Hill Cottage Farm was listed by the government as one of 191 employers nationwide which broke national minimum wage law.

It failed to pay the worker in full between 1st April 2016 and 31st October 2017.

Mr Roche said he believed it was "unfair" his firm was publicly outed, given it sorted the problem and made a genuine mistake.

"We are a small business," he said. "I think it is unfair but there’s not a lot we can do about it; the law is the law."

The government said Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs investigations revealed £2.1m was repaid to over 34,000 workers for breaches between 2011 and 2018. Named employers have been fined an additional £3.2m in total.

It added minimum wage breaches can occur when workers are being paid on or just above the minimum wage rate, and then have deductions from their pay for uniform or accommodation.

Business minister Paul Scully said: "Our minimum wage laws are there to ensure a fair day’s work gets a fair day’s pay – it is unacceptable for any company to come up short."

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