Why businesses are not paying staff the national minimum wage

Government launches £1.7 million awareness campaign to ensure workers know how much they are legally entitled to.

Ten of the most bizarre excuses used by unscrupulous bosses found to have underpaid workers the National Minimum Wage have today been revealed by the government.

Excuses for not paying staff the minimum wage include only wanting to pay staff when there are customers to serve and believing it was acceptable to underpay workers until they had ‘proved’ themselves.

The list has been published today to coincide with a new awareness campaign to encourage workers to check their pay to ensure they are receiving at least the statutory minimum ahead of the national minimum and national living wages rising on 1 April.

The £1.7 million campaign aims to make sure workers are being paid at least the National Minimum Wage, or National Living Wage, depending on their age, and is part of the government’s commitment to making sure the economy works for all.

Investigators from HMRC reveals some of the worst excuses given to them by employers caught out for underpaying staff, which include:

‘The employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage.’

‘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 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 employee is still learning so they aren’t entitled to the National Minimum Wage.’

‘The national wage doesn’t apply to my business.’

By law, all workers must be paid at least £7.20 an hour if they are aged 25 and over, or the National Minimum Wage rate relevant to their age if they are younger.

Business Minister Margot James says, ‘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.’

Workers are encouraged to regularly check their pay to ensure they are receiving at least the minimum or living wage, depending on their age.

Further reading on minimum wage

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

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