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HMRC Highlights Worst Excuses Given By Employers Caught Paying Less Than Minimum Wage

Written by: Keith Tully

Reviewed: Thursday 12th January, 2017

A list of the 10 most curious and least persuasive excuses given by employers for failing to pay their staff the National Minimum Wage has been published by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

The list features the responses of employers who have been caught underpaying their staff and includes a line from one business boss who apparently suggested that a particular employee didn’t deserve to be paid minimum wage because “she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors”.

Other excuses listed include, “I’ve got an agreement with my workers that I don’t pay them the National Minimum Wage” and “the employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid minimum wage”.

One business boss apparently told HMRC that they simply didn’t think the laws around National Minimum Wage applied to them, while another reportedly blamed the lack of a common language between themselves and their accountant as they reason why their staff were going underpaid.

Another respondent to HMRC said that they didn’t feel they ought to pay young workers properly until they have “proven their worth”, while another insisted that some members of their workforce are “still learning” and so shouldn’t be paid at the minimum wage level.

Remarkably, one low-paying retail sector employer suggested that they should only be obliged to pay their staff for time spent actively serving customers, while another respondent was apparently convinced that they didn’t need to pay “foreign workers” at the National Minimum Wage level.

Needless to say, HMRC was not persuaded by any of the arguments made by the employers featuring on its list and has launched an awareness campaign designed to highlight the fact that every employee aged 25 or over in the UK should be paid at least £7.20 an hour or at the corresponding lower level if they are yet to reach that age.

“There are no excuses for underpaying staff what they are legally entitled to,” said business minister Margot James in a statement.

“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 [The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service] 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.”

Keith Tully

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Keith Tully
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Keith has been involved in Business Rescue since 1992, during which time he’s worked for both independent and national firms. His specialties include company restructuring matters and negotiating with HMRC on his clients behalf.

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