Embattled rec agency fined £260k for underpaying staff

An embattled employment agency that supplied staff to Sports Direct, has been ordered to pay back staff it underpaid.

The Best Connection Group, which sent up to 2,000 people a week to work at the notorious Sports Direct Shirebrook warehouse, was fined with a £263,000 penalty last year. The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation also led to the firm having to pay almost £470,000 to underpaid workers, an employment tribunal heard.

The Nottingham Post reports that the firm challenged the penalty, arguing that it was the victim of a ‘deliberate ploy’ by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Timothy Brennan QC, the lawyer representing Best Connection Group, argued that the maximum fine for failing to the pay national minimum wage is £20,000, however HMRC issued 13 penalty notices instead of one.

The agency also claimed that the notices were invalid for not naming individual workers or the amount that they had been underpaid.

However, Employment Judge Sarah Goodman dismissed the agency’s complaints, and said: “Best Connection knew exactly what the penalty was based on and did not dispute that workers had been underpaid and had agreed how much was owed to them.”

Best Connection, who sent around 2,000 workers to the warehouse, had a representative permanently on site and opened an office in Mansfield to manage the contract. The HMRC investigation, which began in January last year, found workers were docked a full quarter of an hour of pay if they clocked on one minute late.

After clocking off their shifts, the workers had to queue for an average of 11 minutes for security checks, during which they were unpaid.

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Source: Recruitment Grapevine

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