A number of firms which operate in Dorset have been revealed as not paying some of their employees the National Minimum Wage.

The government has released a list of more than 500 companies nationwide which failed to pay the minimum wage, with businesses from Dorset included on the list.

It comes ahead of the increase to the wage in April - which will come under the banner of the National Living Wage.

The minimum wage for anyone over the age of 23 is £10.42, however from April 1 any worker over 21 will now be entitled to £11.44.

The Government's National Minimum Wage Naming Scheme aims to increase awareness of legislation and to act as a deterrent to employers.

In the latest round, three businesses which operate in Dorset have been revealed as not paying their employees properly following investigations by the HMRC between 2015 and 2023.

Two firms - Dobbies and Merlin - owed more than £40,000 to more than 1,000 employees. 

A third, Newglaze Windows, based in Blandford, owed £1,135.61 to one employee from October 2018 until March 2019 - something it says was a 'genuine mistake'. 

Dobbies Garden Centre - which has a site at Owermoigne -  owed £48,219.50 to 1,044 workers, at an average of £46.19 per employee from May 2014 to May 2019.

Poole-based Merlin Entertainments, which own attractions including Weymouth Sea Life Centre,  owed 1,100 members of staff £43,499.02, at an average of £39.54 per employee, dating from January 2014 to January 2019.

The businesses have since paid back what they owe and have also faced financial penalties of up to 200 per cent of their underpayment.

Director at Newglaze, Becky Donnelly, said: “This incident was a genuine mistake I made with one employee and still troubles me now.

“The past employee reported us to the HMRC and I co-operated fully with the investigation. 

“We paid all monies due to the employee and the fine, which was reduced from the 200 per cent in reflection of the situation.

“It was first time I have ever paid anyone the wrong National Minimum Wage in the time I have been running the payroll for Newglaze, which is over 20 years.

“We were advised the company could be listed in a naming scheme, but you are unable to explain if a genuine mistake has been made and they do not accept this as a reason for you to be excluded from the list. 

“I do feel it is unfair on Newglaze, or any company, who have not had any other issues within their 40 years of trading, that a one off, genuine human error, mistake can be blacklisted in this way.”

A spokesperson for Dobbies Garden Centres said: “An HMRC investigation completed in 2019 found a number of instances of technical non-compliances in relation to National Minimum Wage requirements.

"Upon becoming aware, we paid colleagues immediately, and in full, the amounts they were due.

“The issue arose from rounding errors in time recording equipment and the timings of colleague security checks between 2014-2018, when Dobbies was under previous ownership.

"We have since implemented a new, more accurate time recording system to ensure all hours worked are fully and appropriately recorded."

A spokesperson for Merlin Entertainments Limited said: “Merlin is committed to fair and equitable pay, and all our employees are paid on or above the National Minimum Wage.

“In 2019, Merlin, like many other UK companies, became aware of a misinterpretation of the updated HMRC guidance related to our uniform policy for staff.

“We fully reimbursed the affected colleagues and updated our systems to ensure it did not recur.”