A Wiltshire tearoom has denied the Government's claim that it failed to pay its staff the national minimum wage.

Polly’s Tearoom in Marlborough owned by David Clarke MBE and his wife Anne has been named as one of more than 500 firms in the county not paying the legal minimum level of pay to its workers.

A Government release showed the cafe, which has been in business for 111 years, failed to pay £677.08 to three workers at Polly's Tearooms in Marlborough.

But Mr Clark denies that the tearoom did not pay their staff the minimum wage.

“This was all tied up with supporting one of our staff over five years ago now with their accommodation,  which meant their net pay after the accommodation costs came below the minimum wage level but they were getting their accommodation supported by us and a significant wage level on top of that," he told the Gazette and Herald.

"We have always paid more than the minimum wage to all of our staff, and still do."

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Polly's Tearooms has been in business for 111 years.Polly's Tearooms has been in business for 111 years. (Image: Newsquest)

In a statement, a Government spokesman said that the tearoom, alongside 523 other employers, had since paid back what they owed to their staff and also faced a financial penalty of up to 200 per cent of their underpayment.

It came after investigations carried out by His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) concluded between 2015 and 2023.

In 2024, the minimum wage for anyone over the age of 23 is £11.44 per hour, £8.60 for 18-23-year-olds, and £6.40 for under 18s.

And Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business Kevin Hollinrake said employees deserve to get paid properly for the hard work they put in.

"While the majority of businesses already do the right thing and pay their staff what they are owed, today’s announcement sends a message to the minority who aren’t - that there are repercussions to undercutting hard work from their staff," he said.

David and Anne Clarke, who took over Polly's Tearooms in 2011, have not had a smooth ride in recent years.

In July 2023, the owners were found guilty of racial discrimination at a tribunal in Bristol, after former employee Natalia Zeh accused them of calling her a “people smuggler.”

Natalia Zeh, who is originally from Poland, began work at Polly's Tearooms in April 2021, and as well as racial allegations, she also claimed she was not fully paid during her notice period.

Mr Clark provided a witness statement ahead of the tribunal accepting that Ms Zeh was owed a sum of £423.38.