An employer not paying a worker the national minimum wage as “she only makes teas and sweeps the floors” is among some of the worst excuses by bosses for underpaying staff, HM Revenue & Customs has revealed.
One employer claimed “it’s part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first three months as they have to prove their worth first”.
Another said they thought it was OK to pay foreign workers below the minimum hourly rate as “they aren’t British so don’t deserve it”, whilst others simply said their employees were on “standby” and only get paid for “when they’re actually serving someone”.
The list of bizarre excuses was published as part of a £1.7m government campaign to make sure workers are being paid the minimum wage.
“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,” said business minister Margot James.
“Every call is followed up by HMRC and we are determined to make sure everybody in work receives a fair wage.”
From 1 April, an increase in the national minimum wage will see employers having to pay 21 to 24-year-olds £7.05, 18 to 20-year-olds £5.60, and 16 to 17-year-olds £4.05 an hour. The apprentice rate will increase by 10p to £3.50 an hour. Companies that fail to do so face fines and bills for backdated payments.
The national living wage rate for those aged over 25 years old will also increase from 1 April by 30p to £7.50 an hour.
The Revenue’s list of employers’ worst attempts to avoid being caught included:
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.