Excuses discovered by HMRC included businesses that would only pay staff once they’d “proved themselves after three months”, one said they would only pay staff for the time they were actually serving customers, and another blamed their accountant, as they “speak a different language”.
The law states that all workers must be paid at least £7.20 per hour if they are aged 25 and over, £6.95 for ages 21-24, £5.55 for ages 18-20, and £4.00 for ages 16-17. The apprentice rate is £3.40.
Business minister Margot James called on businesses to make their staff aware of what they should be paid, and said there was “no excuse for not paying staff properly”.
The news comes as the new awareness campaign seeks to encourage workers to make sure they are receiving at least the statutory minimum, months after the National Minimum and Living Wages increased on 1 April.
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 [the advice service] 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.”
From April 2017, the current rate will increase to £7.50 per hour for over 25s, and will increase by 10p for 21-24s (to £7.05), 5p for 18-20s (£5.60), 5p for 16-17s (£4.05), and 10p for apprentices (£3.50).
Hospitality is often in the spotlight over the minimum wage, as it relies on many workers earning this rate.
While some employers state that they aim to pay above the minimum wage to all staff, and some – such as Harry Cragoe at The Gallivant restaurant ‒ have said they will even pay the same rate to everyone regardless of age, other employers have been criticised for allegedly failing to pay enough.
The top 10 most bizarre excuses
- The employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage.
- It’s part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first three months as they have to prove their ‘worth’ first.
- 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.
- She doesn’t deserve the National Minimum Wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- My employee is still learning so they aren't entitled to the National Minimum Wage.
- The National Minimum Wage doesn’t apply to my business.