Asda employees have to skip payments on household bills, take out loans and even use food banks to get through the month due to regular payroll mistakes that have seen some pay less than £500 or more.
The scale of the problem emerged after the privately-backed company admitted to members of the Scottish Parliament that its external payroll company had made almost 11,000 errors in recent months, affecting the wages of 5,500 employees.
In Scotland, local press reports have highlighted the problem, including a recent one in the Falkirk Herald which claimed that staff working in the town’s supermarket were using food banks and payday lenders for inaccuracies in your payment.
Supermarket staff told the GMB union they were becoming increasingly desperate as monthly payments could range from less than £100 to more than £500. Others reported that the overpayments, recovered the following month, had resulted in their benefits being reduced.
The mistakes had left staff “dreading” instead of looking forward to payday, telling the union they were skipping meals, visiting food banks and taking out loans when their wages were low. Others had had to stop paying bills, and the resulting black marks affected their credit scores.
“Paying staff for the work they do is an absolutely basic responsibility of employers,” said Nadine Houghton, country director of GMB, of the company that was bought by gas station billionaires Mohsin and Zuber Issa and TDR Capital last year. .
“Asda knows it’s a huge problem, but sadly they’re not doing enough to fix it – they’re refusing to put the money into their payroll operation to fix this.
“The stories we have heard from our members are heartbreaking,” added Houghton. “During a cost-of-living crisis, underpaid workers must be able to rely on a level of decency from their employer that ensures they are paid for the work they do.”
A warehouse worker, who declined to be identified, said that over the last six months his wages had been wrong on multiple occasions, including a shortfall of more than £500. “I have struggled and had to use food banks and pantries of food to be able to feed myself and my daughter,” they said. “Working for a living but using food banks and charities to eat, dress and get by is absolutely humiliating.”
Another employee, based at a store in Greater Manchester, said payment errors led to their benefits being cut, because when the shortfall was made up the following month, it seemed they were earning more. “I have to borrow money just to pay rent and feed my children,” they said. “I wouldn’t have to do that if my pay was correct.”
The number of employees affected by payroll issues was outlined in the company’s written response to several MSPs who raised the issue with them. In its response, Asda said that its payroll provider, SD Worx, had 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 problem, we took steps to make sure no one was left without money. We are working closely with our payroll partner and have provided additional support to stores to ensure this does not happen again.”