A list of the strangest excuses given to HMRC by businesses in the UK for underpaying National Minimum Wage (NMW) has been revealed.
Excuses include not wanting to pay the NMW to someone who “only makes the teas and sweeps the floors” and believing that employees in training weren’t entitled to the full amount.
The most common reason for not paying the full amount was that “the employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage”. Others thought that it wasn’t part of UK culture to pay young workers for the first three months “as they have to prove their worth first”.
Responding to the findings, the Government is to launch a £1.7m awareness campaign on 1 April, to ensure that workers are receiving at least the minimum NMW.
The law states that all workers must be paid at least £7.20 an hour if they are aged 25 and over. Younger employees must receive the National Minimum Wage rate relevant to their age.
From 1 April, National Living Wage (or National Minimum Wage, depending on their age) will increase to £7.50 per hour. The rate for 21 to 24 year olds will increase to £7.05 per hour, for 18 to 20 year olds will be £5.60 per hour and 16 to 17 year olds will receive £4.05 per hour. The apprentice rate will increase by 10p to £3.50 per hour.
The top ten excuses in full
1. The employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage.
2. It’s part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first three months as they have to prove their ‘worth’ first.
3. I thought it was ok to pay foreign workers below the National Minimum Wage as they aren’t British and therefore don’t have the right to be paid it.
4. She doesn’t deserve the National Minimum Wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors.
5. I’ve got an agreement with my workers that I won’t pay them the National Minimum Wage; they understand and they even signed a contract to this effect.
6. 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.
7. My workers like to think of themselves as being self-employed and the National Minimum Wage doesn’t apply to people who work for themselves.
8. My workers are often just on standby when there are no customers in the shop; I only pay them for when they’re actually serving someone.
9. My employee is still learning so they aren’t entitled to the National Minimum Wage.
10. The National Minimum Wage doesn’t apply to my business.
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.
“Every call is followed up by HMRC and we are determined to make sure everybody in work receives a fair wage.”