John Rogers, the former Sainsbury’s finance chief who has taken charge of Argos since the deal, has written to employees and explained that the £2.4m mistake had been uncovered by HM Revenue and Customs as part of a routine visit, the Telegraph reports.
It is understood that staff were underpaid because their hourly rate did not include morning briefings and security searches, which could happen after colleagues had clocked out of their shifts.
Last year Sports Direct hit the headlines for failing to pay its warehouse staff the minimum wage because of delays in security searches at its Shirebrook headquarters.
Sainsbury’s said that its subsequent investigation revealed that 37,500 Argos staff were underpaid £2.4m in total. The supermarket chain said that it was processing the payments by the end of the week and those staff should receive £64 each in back payment.
Sainsbury’s reasserted that it pays all its supermarket staff above the living wage and has lifted Argos store pay by 2 per cent to £7.66 from £7.20 for staff aged over 25.
Earlier this week HMRC named and shamed employers who paid below the minimum wage. Debenhams emerged as the biggest offender due to a technical error.