Scotland company...

South of Scotland Enterprise board member fined for paying workers less than minimum wage

A recently-closed business owned by a board member of a Scottish Government agency set up to “tackle inequality within the South of Scotland” has been fined for paying workers less than minimum wage.

Laggan Outdoor, owned by South of Scotland Enterprise board member Duncan McConchie, is one of 22 Scottish businesses “named and shamed” by the UK Government for shortchanging its workers a collective £31,251 between 2011 and 2018.

McConchie’s outdoor activity business, based near Gatehouse of Fleet in Galloway, left its six employees £526.68 out of pocket between September 2016 and September 2017.

When the review findings came back, we were alarmed that we had underpaid our team but pleased it was brought to our attention so we could emend the problem and ensure it would not happen again

Duncan McConchie, South of Scotland Enterprise board member

But McConchie said that staff had been underpaid due to a review of payroll and financial processes undertaken by HMRC in 2016. The error was fixed and workers were reimbursed, he said.

“When the review findings came back, we were alarmed that we had underpaid our team but pleased it was brought to our attention so we could amend the problem and ensure it would not happen again,” he said. “This mistake was down to human error and we dealt with it immediately.”

It is unclear how much Laggan Outdoor was fined, although businesses across the UK were made to pay back what they owed, and fined an additional £3.2m in total.

Our minimum wage laws are there to ensure a fair day’s work gets a fair day’s pay – it is unacceptable for any company to come up short.

Paul Scully MP, Business Minister

Business Minister Paul Scully MP said: “Our minimum wage laws are there to ensure a fair day’s work gets a fair day’s pay – it is unacceptable for any company to come up short.

“All employers, including those on this list, need to pay workers properly. This government will continue to protect workers’ rights vigilantly, and employers that short-change workers won’t get off lightly.”

Employer / Company nameTrading NameLocal Authority (employer trading address)ArrearsNo of workersAverage arrears per worker
MacLeod Garages LtdKiwis GarageNa h-Eileanan Siar£3,663.631£3,663.63
J Ren LtdMoobooGlasgow City Council£3,114.7324£129.78
Brittain & McMail LimitedRainbow Rooms InternationalGlasgow City Council£2,923.2516£182.70
Hair By JFK LimitedCity of Edinburgh£2,609.302£1,304.65
Harbour Havens LimitedKildonan HotelNorth Ayrshire£2,478.124£619.53
Pacson LimitedDundee City£1,607.203£535.73
Borders Automobile Company LimitedBorder Motor GroupScottish Borders£1,429.127£204.16
Miss Emma AitkenRazor KingSouth Lanarkshire£1,327.501£1,327.50
Dunkeld House Hotel LLPPerth and Kinross Council£1,322.088£165.26
John Codona's Pleasure Fairs LimitedCodona's Family Entertainment CentreAberdeen City£1,318.2390£14.65
K McKeown Builders LtdPerth and Kinross Council£1,317.942£658.97
Sparklers Private Nursery LtdDumfries and Galloway£1,177.0821£56.05
Mr Riccardo CorviRainbow Room International AyrSouth Ayrshire£1,119.323£373.11
Mr Sam DewarSCD JoineryNorth Ayrshire£886.531£886.53
Mrs Jennifer Riley and Mr Andrew RileyThe Tyndrum InnStirling£844.841£844.84
Nicola JonesCosmetology (under new ownership)Dundee City£759.601£759.60
Mrs Janine McMahonRainbow Room InternationalEast Dunbartonshire£652.348£81.54
Fleeson & Robb LimitedRainbow Room InternationalGlasgow City Council£597.705£119.54
Mrs Jennifer Campbell and Mr John CampbellBadden Farm NurseryArgyll and Bute£569.721£569.72
Laggan Outdoor LimitedDumfries and Galloway£526.686£87.78
Mr Robert MitchellSherlocksInverclyde£504.781£504.78
Mr Andrew HayBeach Service StationNorth Ayrshire£501.793£167.26

McConchie’s business portfolio

Former media worker McConchie is a member of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Scottish Tourism Recovery Taskforce and co-founder and chair of the Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance.

His award-winning Laggan activity centre claimed to have had 20,000 visitors a year, Europe’s longest zip wire and the world’s largest human slingshot.

It closed on 1 November 2020, with McConchie stating that “further investment into the Outdoor Centre made less sense as substantial growth in that would have led us to costly road upgrades.“

Scotland
Photo by Billy McCrorie

The wider Laggan brand, of which McConchie is a director, continues to operate several businesses on the site – Seaside Snugs boutique holiday accommodation, the Gather restaurant and GG’s Yard, a luxury wedding and corporate venue.

In 2017, Laggan received a £362,000 grant by Scottish Enterprise to create GG’s Yard. The venue was also given £25,000 by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), the maximum grant amount that was given by Scotland’s enterprise agencies to wedding venues and other businesses affected by Covid-19.

A SOSE spokesperson said: “While Mr McConchie is a member of the SOSE Board, he was not involved in any of the discussions between SOSE and Laggan Outdoor, including the appraisal of the funding application last year.”

McConchie’s wedding firm was one of 170 South of Scotland which received a share of the £1.7m support package, they said.

“Each Wedding Industry Fund application was rigorously appraised by members of our team against a number of nationally agreed criteria. Every successful application passed eligibility checks and was able to demonstrate a clear need for emergency funding as well as its significance to the local economy.”

McConchie said his firms employ over 60 people who are “paid over the minimum wage and correctly in accordance with the law”.

SOSE launched on 1 April 2020 to drive “inclusive growth, increased competitiveness and the tackling of inequality within the region and to Scotland as a whole”, according to the Scottish Government’s website.

“The vision of SoSE is to be able to drive inclusive growth, increase competitiveness and tackle inequality within the South of Scotland”, it adds.

A total of 191 businesses across the UK were named for breaking national minimum wage law. Following investigations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, a total of £2.1m was found to be owed to over 34,000 workers.

Cover Photo Credit: iStock/Ivan-Balvan

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