Silliest excuses for underpaying staff revealed

​The Government has revealed ten of the most ridiculous excuses used by bosses that have failed to pay the National Minimum Wage as it launches a new awareness campaign.

Excuses for not paying staff the National Minimum Wage (NMW) 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 to coincide with a new £1.7 million campaign to encourage workers to check their pay to ensure they are receiving at least the statutory minimum ahead of the NMW and National Living Wage rises on 1 April 2017.

Investigators from HMRC have revealed some of the worst excuses given to them by employers caught out for underpaying staff. They 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 three months as they have to prove their worth;
  • I thought it was ok to pay foreign workers below the National Minimum Wage;
  • 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 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.

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

Business minister Margot James said: "There are no excuses for underpaying staff what they are legally entitled to. 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."

  • It is always a great pleasure to meet with Eric Gardner - such a lovely man and so professional and thorough!