We believe in treating people with dignity and respect and this is particularly true of the 5,500 people who work with us 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
It is our ambition to make working for Welcome Break as enjoyable as we possibly can. We place great importance on building and maintaining a culture of safety, service, inclusivity, communication, achievement and alignment to our goals.
We clearly define our standards and expectations around removing bias of any kind. We offer reward, development, recruitment and opportunities for personal growth. We train our managers in the use of these standards.
We will not tolerate, nor will we condone, abuse of human rights within any part of our business or supply chain. Any allegations that human rights are not properly respected are taken very seriously. We are committed to building knowledge and awareness of human rights across our employees. We encourage our teams to speak up, without fear of retribution, about any concerns they may have.
Communication is key and we listen actively and act thoughtfully. We work to create a deeper sense of team and purpose, through open and two-way dialogue.
We are committed to direct employee engagement and participation through Company, Site and Team forums. We believe our teams can contribute in our success through their knowledge and passion for what matters most.
We have an open communications platform, providing access to anyone in our business, as well as freely sharing information. This supports our weekly, monthly and quarterly meetings, many of which are mandated. We also have an annual People Feedback Survey, as well as twice yearly performance reviews.
At Welcome Break we continuously work on ensuring the best possible experience we can for our teams. We aim to be an employer of choice paying more than the legal minimums with generous discounts and benefits.
- 93% of our team are paid above the required National Minimum Wage
- Our average hourly rate is £8.13
- 63% of our hourly paid teams are above the National Living Wage of £7.83
However, in June of this year HMRC informed us that after reviewing our business they were concerned that due to our uniform policy we were in breach of the national minimum wage legislation.
After this was concluded we confirmed that of our 5500 people a small number were indeed affected. This was due to our requirement in some brands that black trousers/ skirt and suitable black shoes must be worn to work. Purchasing these items affected the hourly pay rate of some people over the age of 25, putting us in breach of this legislation.
Immediately this was discovered we changed our uniform policy to ensure that all weekly paid employees would no longer have to purchase black shoes or trousers/skirt.
We also agreed to reimburse the affected people as well as those who worked with us in the last 3 years who no longer do.
We are both embarrassed and extremely apologetic that this has occurred. We value our teams above all else and go out of our way to ensure higher than legally required pay rates, regular reviews, generous discounts and enhanced benefits. We provide a great opportunity for people to be well rewarded and if they wish, genuine career prospects.
A spokesperson for Welcome Break said:
“We apologise to our team members and for this error.
It was never our intention to mislead and as soon as we recognised the error, we reimbursed all team members affected.
We take on board the report from the HMRC and working with them have rectified our previous uniform policy.
We have put robust processes in place to ensure that a situation such as this does not occur again.”
Questions & answers
Why has this happened twice?
The two incidents are actually very different situations, the first was related to a change in age not triggering an automatic pay increase and the second was related to uniform requirements bringing some of our team under the National Minimum Wage
How many team members were affected?
We have gone back 3 years so Including ex-employees it affected 1300 people
How much money was reimbursed?
Approximately £35 per person
How long until they were reimbursed?
All payments were made by Friday 2nd November 2018
Did we only know when HMRC alerted us?
Yes, it appears to be a focus for HMRC and was challenging an approach in place across the hospitality sector for many years. Given that we pay above the minimum wage to most of our teams and our uniform policy is largely dictated by our brand partners we simply missed it.
What have we put in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again?
Any employee that is required to wear a certain type of clothing as uniform can have it provided by us at no cost and replaced if required after 1 year.
We aim to pay above the required minimum wage amount for all ages and all hourly paid employees.