Strangest excuses employers give for not paying minimum wage revealed


"She only makes the teas and sweeps the floors" and "I thought it was OK to pay foreign workers below the National Minimum Wage" are just two of the excuses UK employers have used for failing to provide their staff with adequate remuneration.

Britain's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published a dossier on some of the worst reasons given when employers were asked why they were not paying the legal minimum.

It's part of an "awareness campaign" to educate workers about their entitlements and comes in the wake of criticism that the UK government is not prosecuting enough companies that are guilty of the practice.

The UK's Independent reports that only three firms out of 7000 have been prosecuted for failing to pay minimum wage since February 2014.
The data shows that over 13,000 workers are being underpaid, coming to a total cost of over £3.5bn (€4.04bn) to the workforce.

Investigators from HM Revenue & Customs revealed the 10 strangest lines they encountered:

  • 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.

Under UK law, all workers must be paid at least £7.20 (€8.32) an hour if they are aged 25 years and over, or the National Minimum Wage rate relevant to their age if they are younger.

Craig Fitzpatrick, 

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