French Connection, 99p Stores and Foot Locker have been named and shamed by the government for failing to pay staff members minimum wage.

Business minister Jo Swinson has named 48 employers who between them owe workers over £162,000 in arrears.

Freedom Sportsline, which trades as Foot Locker, was the worst retail offender after it underpaid 601 workers a total of £16,718.25.

However Foot Locker insisted the failure to pay minimum wage was an oversight.

Foot Locker said: “Foot Locker did at all times pay associates legislated minimum wages; however, it was brought to our attention that the cost of trainers, which store associates are required to wear as part of our dress code, was not consistently deducted as a wage offset. In 2014, we reimbursed all effected associates and have updated our dress code to ensure ongoing compliance with minimum wage requirements.”

French Connection was close behind after it failed to pay £16,436.05 to 367 workers, while 99p Stores neglected to pay 11 workers £633.39.

The latest 48 cases of companies underpaying staff were uncovered by a “thorough” investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Swinson said: “There’s no excuse for companies that don’t pay staff the wages they’re entitled to – whether by wilfully breaking the law, or making irresponsible mistakes.

“The Government is protecting workers by cracking down on employers who ignore minimum wage rules. In addition to naming and shaming, we’ve increased the penalty fines and boosted the resources available to investigate non-compliance.”

The latest round of naming and shaming by the government brings the total number of companies exposed for failing to pay the minimum wage up to 210, with total arrears of over £635,000 and total penalties of over £248,000.