Photo credit: J D Mack via photopin cc

The UK Government has today (Wednesday) revealed some of the worst, and often bizarre excuses given by employers for underpaying staff the National Minimum Wage – some of them will shock you.

Excuses include underpaying a worker because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors, only wanting to pay staff when there are customers to serve, and believing it was acceptable to underpay workers because they aren’t worth it.

All workers aged 25 and over must be paid a minimum wage of at least £7,20 per hour, or the correct rate relevant to their age if they are younger. But it would seem that some employers believe they can escape their obligation to pay workers what they legally entitled to.

The list below has been published by the Government to coincide with the launch of a new £1.7 million campaign, which aims to encourage employers to check workers are being paid at least the statutory minimum.

Some of the worst excuses for dodging the minimum wage include:

  • 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 3 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.

Business Minister Margot 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 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.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s not fair that decent employers who respect and pay their staff well should be undercut by bad bosses who exploit staff and cheat them out of pay.”