A WIRRAL hairdressers’ is among 25 employers named and shamed by the Government after they failed to pay their staff the national minimum wage.

Renaissance, in Heswall, underpaid three workers a total of £7,310.65 but co-owner Nicola Banks claims it was a “genuine error”.

Ms Banks told the Globe that of the three staff underpaid, one still works at the Telegraph Road salon, adding that it was an “apprenticeship scheme problem” rather than a minimum wage issue.

She said the mistake came from difficulties following the Government’s advice on paying apprentices on the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) website.

She said:  “The trouble is we were following the Government’s apprentice scheme website and it’s extremely difficult to follow.”

Ms Banks said an error had followed and as soon as it was flagged up by the PAYE, she and her co-owner Christine Cadden completely complied with them, with staff members paid the money they were owed straight away.

Renaissance has since been fined by HM Revenue and Customs for the minimum wages breach, which was paid six months ago.

“We were absolutely mortified and really sorry it happened, but it was a genuine error. We were not deliberately trying to avoid paying the minimum wage.

“It is not clear on the website what the ages should be and I think a lot of salons find it very difficult to ensure they are complying properly.

“It’s confusing for a small business looking at the PAYE website and trying to find where their own employees fit in the scheme.”

The hairdressers salon was just one of 25 employers named in the list published by the Department for Business as part of a new crackdown.

The Wheatsheaf Inn, in Cheshire, was also named and shamed after it neglected to pay £2,057.88 to five workers.

Between them the 25 employers owe workers more than £43,000 in arrears and face fines totalling more than £21,000.

It is the biggest number of employers publicly named since a new regime was announced last year.

The Government also plans to increase fine, so that an employer underpaying 10 workers could face penalties of up to £200,000.

Business Minister Jenny Willott said: "Paying less than the minimum wage is not only wrong, it's illegal. If employers break the law they need to know that they will face tough consequences.

"Any worker who is entitled to the minimum wage should receive it. If anyone suspects they are not being paid the wage they are legally entitled to they should call the Pay and Work Rights helpline on 0800 917 2368."