With the National Minimum Wage (NMW) now almost fifteen years old, and with another increase pending on 1st April 2017 HMRC have issued a list of the most elaborate excuses they've been given by employers for not paying the appropriate rates:
- An employer said a woman on the premises was not entitled to NMW as she was his wife. When asked what his wife’s name was the employer said “Erm .. her name, erm ... what’s your name love?”
- An employer told HMRC: “I don’t think my workers know anything about the NMW because they don’t speak English.”
- Another employer told HMRC: “When the NMW goes up I do increase the amount I pay a little, even if the total pay is still below the NMW. I don’t think its right to ignore the rises in NMW.”
- A number of employers were paying rates below NMW, suggesting that accommodation they provided workers made up for their shortfall in wages.
- Upon inspection an employer told HMRC: “I know I am paying them too little, but they are happy to work for this amount because they are getting experience.”
- An employee claimed to be just working for a few days with a view to buying the business. When HMRC checked food safety records, the employee’s name was found on historic food temperature records.
- An employer claimed they realised they were not paying employees NMW and had just this week increased their wages … to an hourly rate which was still below the minimum wage.
- An employer told HMRC: “It wasn’t a conscious decision to say ‘I’m not going to pay this’, but I’ve never really considered doing it because I’ve not had people come to me and say, ‘I’m not getting paid enough’ or ‘Is this the minimum wage?’”
- An employee ran out of the premises when HMRC officers arrived to check for NMW infringements. The same employee then returned – minus the work pinafore – pretending to be a customer.
- Another employee claimed to be a friend of the owner and only in the restaurant as they were in the area. HMRC officers returned another day to find the person in the kitchen preparing food.
Other lame excuses reported by Personnel Today on 11th January 2017 were:
- “She doesn’t deserve the national minimum wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors.”
- “The national minimum wage doesn’t apply to my business.”
- “My employee is still learning so they aren’t entitled to the national minimum wage.”
- “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.”
- “I thought it was okay 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.”
- “It’s part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first three months as they have to prove their ‘worth’ first.”
- “The employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the national minimum wage.”
- “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 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.”
From 1st April 2017, the new National Minimum Wage rates are:
- £7.50 per hour for those aged 25 and over
- £7.05 per hour for those aged between 21 and 24
- £5.60 per hour for those aged between 18 and 20
- £4.05 per hour for those aged under 18
- £3.50 per hour for apprentices aged under 19 or over 19 and in the first year of their apprenticeship
For more information, please get in touch.