10 worst excuses for not paying minimum wage

13th August 2020

The government is rolling out a new campaign to encourage workers to check they are being paid the legal rate, and have now revealed the worst excuses which employers have given for paying under the minimum wage.

Some of the unbelievable excuses given to the HMRC by underpaying bosses 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.

“There are no excuses for underpaying staff what they are legally entitled to,” says business minister, Margot James. “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 [Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration 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.”

Since February 2013, the government has fined nearly 700 firms a total of £1.3m for underpayment, totalling £3.5m in missing wages.

From 1st April 2017, the minimum wage rises to £7.50 per hour for workers over the age of 24, £7.05 for 21-24 year olds, £5.60 for 18-20 year olds and £4.05 for under-18s. The apprentice rate will also rise to £3.50.

Are you an employer, or about to become one? Your responsibilities are myriad, but not hard to follow given the right resources. The UK Government offers up to date advice at www.gov.uk/employing-staff, or for help and information about your employers’ insurance requirements our friendly team will be happy to take your call.