St Johnstone Football Club has been forced to defend its financial practices after it was named and shamed as a “rogue employer” by tax bosses.
The Perth side featured on a list of 139 British companies that failed to pay £6.7 million to more than 95,000 workers.
HMRC accused the club of short-changing 28 workers by just over £14,200 – about £500 per employee.
But the Saints said the issue was resolved after a probe by tax officers more than three years ago.
A statement released by the club on Thursday morning said bosses “enabled HM Revenues and Customs to conclude a very lengthy scrutiny of its working practices in relation to the national minimal wage.”
The spokesman said: “HMRC looked at employees across the full spectrum of the club’s activities from professional football operation and match day staffing, to the club’s weekday operations which covered matters such as catering and conferencing.”
He added: “The outcome of this historic HMRC investigation was that they identified arrears amounting to £14,246 which was due to 28 different employees from the previous five years to 2017.
“As required, the club made arrangements for these former employees to be paid the relevant amounts.”
Of the affected staff, 25 were apprentice footballers. “Due to the absence of written evidence to support our position in relation to hours worker, as opposed to the actual rate of pay, the club was unable to disprove HMRC’s estimate of the average hours worked per week by these employees,” the spokesman said.
The club said hours of work undertaken by apprentices was fully reviewed following the probe, and changes were put in place.
“The perceived failure to pay three other employees the national minimum wage related to voluntary deductions from pay by these employees,” the team’s spokesman said. “The Club prides itself in treating our staff fairly and we are extremely disappointed to find ourselves in a position whereby we are criticised for failing to meet national minimum wage requirements.”
A total of 16 Scottish companies were named in list of “rogue employers”. HMRC said they failed to pay nearly £90,000 to over 11,000 workers in what was described as a “completely unacceptable breach of employment law.”
It is the first time the UK Government has named and shamed companies in this way since 2018.
According to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Pizza Hut underpaid workers in Edinburgh by nearly £846,000.
The company said this related to an “historic uniform policy” from several years ago. “It is important to stress there was never any intent to underpay our employees,” a spokesman said. “We’re confident that the necessary processes have been fixed to ensure that this will not happen again.”
The main cause of minimum wage breaches was low-paid employees being made to cover work costs including paying for uniform, training or parking fees.
Business Minister Paul 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.”