DISGRUNTLED ex-employees staged a protest outside a Worcester pizza takeaway, claiming they were owed unpaid wages.

Steven Wood, aged 23, and friend Chris Marsh, 22, of Worcester, held placards saying "pay our people" and "pay our taxes" during the protest outside Papa John's in the Bull Ring, St John's on Thursday evening.

Both men claim they were paid £5 an hour, cash in hand every Monday, while they were told income tax and national insurance contributions would be sorted out directly by their employer.

However, both say these contributions were not made by their employer, meaning they were paid below the minimum wage for workers over 21 (£6.31 per hour). They were therefore protesting to claim back the difference (£1.31) between their wage and the minimum wage for every hour they worked.

Mr Marsh, who said he helped manage the takeaway, says he is owed £840 for four months work and Mr Wood £209 for two and a half months work. Both men fear they will become homeless because of their financial situation.

Mr Wood, a former delivery driver, said: "We want backdated wages for every hour he hasn't been paying us the minimum wage. But there is no way he can get away with offering me the money back without offering it to other members of staff.

"I am fighting for those people who haven't got their money back. I am fighting for every other member of staff that has ever worked for Papa John's. If they are prepared to give me my money back they have to pay everybody else's money back."

A manager in the store told your Worcester News reporter on Thursday that both men would be paid their money at the end of the month.

A Papa John’s spokesperson said: “We can confirm that, on the April 25, we were made aware of a number of concerns expressed by members of staff working at our Bull Ring store in Worcester.

Papa John’s takes its responsibility as a franchisor seriously in providing franchise owners with the right advice regarding employment. We are now working with the franchise owner of the store to investigate the issues that have been raised, and ensure these are resolved.”

Lisa Billard of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said: "We investigate all allegations of national minimum wage (NMW) non-payment, but are unable to comment on individual businesses or workers due to confidentiality."

Anyone who believes they are not being paid the NMW can call the pay and work rights helpline, in confidence, on 0800 917 2368.

If you work for an employer you pay tax on your wages through the pay as you earn (PAYE) system, depending on how much you earn. Employers are responsible for making sure that the income tax and national insurance recorded on employees' payslips is paid to HMRC.