Strangest excuses for not paying minimum wage

Jan 11, 2017


By Lyndsey Hall

This week, HMRC has published a report with a list of the most bizarre excuses given by employers for not paying their staff the minimum wage.

The report was published as part of a government awareness campaign aiming to inform employees of their legal rights. It hopes to encourage them to check their own wages and warn underpaying employers of fines.

Amongst the reasons for paying less than the legal minimum, one boss said, “She doesn’t deserve the national minimum wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors.”

Another said, “My accountant and I speak a different language – he doesn’t understand me and that’s why he doesn’t pay my workers the correct wages.”

Others said that the employee “wasn’t a good worker”, and that employees should “prove their worth” before earning the legal minimum.

Business Minister Margot James said, “There are no excuses for underpaying staff what they are legally entitled to.

“This campaign will raise awareness among the lowest paid in society about what they must legally receive and I would encourage anyone who thinks they may be paid less to contact Acas as soon as possible.”

Another case investigated by HMRC involved an employer who thought it was acceptable to pay foreign employees less than the statutory rate.

Stewart Gee from Acas said, “We welcome this new government awareness campaign, as there are no good excuses for not paying staff what they are legally entitled to.

Employers are breaking the law if they do not pay the national minimum wage and businesses face a maximum fine of £20,000 per worker for not paying the national living wage. Failure to pay the national living wage could also result in a company director being banned for up to 15 years.”

The National Minimum Wage means that apprentices should be paid a minimum of £3.40 an hour, under-18s should receive at least £4 an hour, 18-20 year olds should earn £5.55 an hour and 21 to 24 year olds should be paid a minimum of £6.95 per hour.

The National Living Wage, which was launched in 2016, means that workers aged 25 and over should earn a legal minimum of £7.20 per hour.

What’s the strangest reason you’ve come across for an employee receiving less than the legal minimum? We’d love to hear from you, leave us a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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