Excuses, Excuses………for not paying the National Minimum Wage

March 6, 2017 3:17 pm Published by

Excuses, excuses…..for not paying the national minimum wage

Most of us know that we have to pay staff at least the National Minimum Wage.  The Government is determined to enforce the NMW and in an era of cuts instead increased HMRC’s NMW enforcement budget last year from £13 million to £20 million. An additional £4.3 million in enforcement funding was announced in the last Autumn Statement.

Clearly there is still a big problem with underpayment.  The Government has published a list of the ten strangest excuses for underpaying the National Minimum Wage.  It is part of a campaign to get employees to check they are getting their dues, before a further increase in pay levels taking effect on 1 April 2017.

These are some of the excuses given to HMRC:

  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 3 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.

By law, from 1 April 2017 all workers must be paid at least £7.50 an hour if they are aged 25 years and over, or the National Minimum Wage rate relevant to their age if they are younger.  If in doubt please check the HMRC guidance on-line.  And don’t rely on an excuse – there are really are no good ones and the penalties for underpayment are unattractively high.


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This post was written by Frances