Asda workers have to skip paying household bills, take out loans and even use food banks to get through the month due to regular payroll mistakes which have seen some underpaid by £500 or more.
The scale of the problem emerged after the private equity-backed firm admitted to members of the Scottish Parliament that its external payroll firm had made almost 11,000 errors in recent months, affecting the wages of 5,500 staff.
In Scotland, local press articles have highlighted the problem, including a recent one in the Falkirk Herald which claimed that staff working in the city’s hypermarket were using food banks and payday lenders due to inaccuracies in their salary.
Supermarket staff told the GMB union they were becoming increasingly desperate as monthly payments could be short from under £100 to over £500. Others reported that overpayments, recovered the following month, had resulted in the reduction of their benefits.
The mistakes had left staff “dreading” rather than looking forward to payday, telling the union they were skipping meals, visiting food banks and taking out loans when their pay was insufficient. Others had to miss bill payments, with the resulting black marks affecting their credit score.
“Compensating staff for the work they do is a very fundamental responsibility of employers,” said Nadine Houghton, country manager of GMB, the company which was bought by petrol station billionaires Mohsin and Zuber. Issa and TDR Capital last year.
“Asda knows this is a huge problem, but unfortunately they are not doing enough to address it – they are refusing to invest the money needed in the payroll operation to fix this problem.
“The stories we’ve heard from our members are heartbreaking,” Houghton added. “During a cost-of-living crisis, low-wage workers need to be able to rely on a level of decency from their employer that ensures they are paid for the work they do.”
A worker at the depot, who declined to be named, said that over the past six months his salary had been wrong on several occasions, including a shortfall of more than £500. “I struggled and had to use food banks and pantries to feed myself and my daughter,” they said. “Working for a living but using food banks and charities to eat, dress and get through life is absolutely humiliating.”
Another employee, based at a store in Greater Manchester, said pay errors led to his benefits being cut because when the shortfall was made up the following month, it looked like he was earning more. “I have to borrow money just to pay my rent and feed my children,” they said. “I wouldn’t have to do this if my salary was right.”
The number of employees affected by payroll issues was described in the company’s written response to several MSPs who raised the issue with them. In its response, Asda said its payroll provider, SD Worx, made 10,806 errors, affecting 5,529 employees.
An Asda spokesman said: ‘It is imperative that our colleagues are paid correctly and on time and we regret that this has not been the case for some of them.
“As soon as we became aware of this issue, we took steps to ensure that no one was left behind. We are working closely with our payroll partner and have provided additional store support to ensure this does not happen again. »