Couple on New Years Honours list own company that didn’t pay staff minimum wage

A couple who made CBEs in the Queen's New Year Honours List are directors of a hairdressing business which failed to pay workers minimum wage, an investigation found.

Alan and Linda Stewart were made Commanders of the Order of the British Empire.

Their Rainbow Room hairdressers in Glasgow failed to pay £851.70 to six workers between 2016 and 2018.

The pair founded Rainbow Room International, which features 12 salons around the city and the west of Scotland.

The investigation, by HMRC, found Clare McFarlane and Suzanne McGill, who were trading as Rainbow Room International, South Lanarkshire, failed to pay £1,304.77 to 16 workers.

The salon's website describes the Alan and Linda Stewart as a “formidable force in the hairdressing industry”, adding: “As well as building Scotland’s largest salon group, they have maintained the business’s high standards and reputation for hairdressing excellence.”

Rainbow Room (East Kilbride) Limited, South Lanarkshire G74, failed to pay £2,378.77 to 15 workers.

William Fleeson, trading as Rainbow Room International, Stirling, failed to pay £2,089.66 to 11 workers.

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A Rainbow Room spokeswoman declined to comment to the PA agency when asked about the business underpaying its staff.

A spokesman for the Cabinet office said the companies on the name and shame list are franchises and not directly managed by the Stewarts, that there was no issue raised with them directly and no action required from them personally.

They added that all the companies on the list have paid back the arrears after being investigated.

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All named companies were served a notice of underpayment between September 2016 and July 2018.

They've been ordered to pay back the wage arrears to workers at the current rate, as well as facing fines of up to 200% of money owed – capped at £10,000 per worker – paid to the Government.

Paul Scully, the Govt's business minister said naming employers for failing to pay the minimum wage should be a "wake-up call" to rogue bosses.

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The 'naming and shaming' scheme has resumed after two years and found 139 companies in the UK were investigated between 2016 and 2018, after failing to pay £6.7million to more than 95,000 workers across the country.

Mr Scully said: “Paying the minimum wage is not optional, it is the law. It is never acceptable for any employer to short-change their workers.

“This should serve as a wake-up call to named employers and a reminder to everyone of the importance of paying workers what they are legally entitled to.

“Make no mistake, those who fail to follow minimum wage rules will be caught out and made to pay up.”

The current minimum hourly rate is £8.72 for over 25s, £8.20 for workers between 21 and 24, £6.45 for those aged between 18 and 20 and £4.55 for under 18s.

The minimum wage for apprentices is £4.15 per hour.

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