Estée Lauder shamed for failing to meet UK minimum wage

By Julia Wray | Published: 23-Feb-2024

Estée Lauder Cosmetics Limited failed to pay more than £894k to 5,933 workers

Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) has been included on a ‘name and shame’ list of 524 businesses that failed to pay the UK minimum wage. 

The UK government said the conglomerate’s Westminster-based Estée Lauder Cosmetics Limited had failed to pay £894,980.43 to 5,933 workers.

The beauty giant attributed the error to ‘misinterpreted guidance’, saying all those affected had been reimbursed.

ELC appeared alongside other major consumer brands, including airline company Easyjet, which failed to pay £338,876.46 to 3,898 workers, and food firm Greggs, which underpaid 4,793 workers a total of £219,129.07. 

The investigations by HM Revenue & Customs were concluded between 2015 and 2023, according to a release.

“The Estée Lauder Companies has never intentionally paid our valued colleagues less than the minimum wage,” an ELC spokesperson told Cosmetics Business. 

“In 2019, like many other companies, we were made aware that we had misinterpreted guidance from HM Revenue & Customs on the way in which payment was taken for voluntary staff purchases of our concession products and on staff clothing requirements. 

“We immediately made sure all affected employees were informed and reimbursed and updated our procedures.”

The government’s Department for Business and Trade confirmed that the businesses in question had since paid back what they owed to staff. 

It added that the businesses faced financial penalties of up to 200% of their underpayment, although the department didn’t specify which companies paid what sum. 

The UK’s national minimum wage currently sits at £10.42 for those aged 21 and over, but is set to increase by 9.8% to £11.44 an hour on 1 April this year. 

ELC is not the first major beauty company to be hauled across hot coals by the UK government for not paying minimum wage. 

In June 2023, it outed Lloyds Pharmacy and Chanel for failing to pay, while John Lewis and The Body Shop were named and shamed in August 2021.

You may also like