THE company behind a well-known group of hotels has hit back after it was “named and shamed” for failing to pay the national minimum wage.

New Forest-based Home Grown Hotels owns the Pig Hotels brand, with the Pig at Brockenhurst and the Pig on the Beach at Studland.

It appeared on a list in a government press release headed “Rogue employers named and shamed for failing to pay minimum wage”. The government said the 139 employers named had failed to pay £6.7million to more than 95,000 staff.

Home Grown Hotels was found to owe 25 workers a total of £13,790.

The company said it was “unjust” for it to be named “for inadvertent breaches of very complex regulations”.

MP Richard Drax's family business "shamed" over minimum wage

“The National Minimum Wage’s communication with the press includes defamatory and provocative language including ‘rogue employers’, ‘short-changed their employees’, ‘offending firms’ and ‘completely unacceptable breach of employment law’ yet in the next breath admit that ‘not all breaches of minimum wage rules are intentional’,” the company said.

It said a review in 2016 found a “technical” breach of the rules, relating to staff accommodation and uniform deposits.

“This technical breach materialised because Home Grown Hotels were offering company subsidised housing (unavailable on the open market) to the group’s lowest paid members of staff. The financial shortfall to staff was something HGH were already in the process of correcting when the audit took place,” it added.

Chief executive Robin Hutson had been “entirely satisfied with the swift approach taken by the company’s accounts and HR teams and sympathetic about how such a mistake could have arisen”.

The statement added: “Since 2010 Home Grown Hotels has created nearly 1,000 quality jobs including many apprenticeships. Over the period in question (2013 to 2016), Home Grown Hotels’ payroll was approximately £20m. With such significant outgoings no company would deliberately seek to make savings of £4,000 per annum by underpaying staff.”

The company also said it had shown “overwhelming levels of philanthropy” this year, distributing fruit and vegetables from its kitchen gardens to the elderly and vulnerable, as well as accommodating NHS staff for free at all its hotels on its reopening nights. Mr Hutson had raised more than £250,000 for Action Against Hunger last November.