A record number of companies fail to pay minimum wage. Over 350 employers of all sizes have been highlighted on the Government's latest list of employers who have failed to pay either the national minimum or living wage.15,520 employees nationwide have unfairly lost out, according to the latest figures from The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy that were released today. The retail, hairdressing and hospitality sectors are listed as being amongst the worst offenders.

Part of the reason for the increased number of offenders would appear to be the fact that this year marks the first year that bosses who don't meet their obligations to pay the National Living Wage rate (currently £7.20 for those aged at least 25) are included.

National Living Wage controversy

The so-called 'living wage' has been controversial since its inception: the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) claimed that it would threaten businesses and jobs; whilst the Trades Unions Congress (TUC) were also critical – but for very different reasons. TUC general secretary, Frances O'Grady, pointed to the allegedly discriminatory aspect of younger workers being entitled to less money than their older co-workers. Responding to the latest figures, O'Grady said "This should be a wake-up call for employers who value their reputation." She also called for a strong union presence in every workplace to protect workers' rights.

Some businesses responded to the introduction of the National Living Wage by slashing payments for working Sundays and bank holidays.

All bosses great and small

Businesses named in today's figures include smaller businesses, along with better-known names such as Debenhams, Lloyds Pharmacy and Age Concern.

Pay rise set for April

The current minimum hourly wage rates are set to rise from April 1st, when they will be £7.50 for workers aged 25 and over. The criticised disparity based on age continues though, with 21-24 year-olds being set to receive £7.05 per hour, 18-20 year-olds £5.60 per hour and 16-17 year-olds set to receive the least at £4.05 per hour. Those on an apprenticeship are set to receive £3.50 per hour.