HMRC discloses employer explanations for not paying legal minimum wage

‘She only makes the tea’ and ‘my employees are on standby’ are just some of the strange excuses used by businesses who have paid their workers under the National Minimum Wage, the UK tax office has revealed.

Every employed worker in Great Britain is legally entitled to the National Minimum Wage, but many employers tried cheating the pay system during the last financial year, according to a new Government report.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has released the most shameful excuses that employers have used for failing to pay their employees correctly, including ‘my workers like to think as themselves as being self-employed’ and ‘young workers have to prove their worth in the first three months’.

One company claimed their employee is ‘still learning so they are not entitled to minimum wage’, while another thought ‘the National Minimum Wage does not apply to their business’.

Other outrageous excuses for not paying employees the legal minimum wage include: ‘She only sweeps the floors’, ‘they weren’t a good worker’ and ‘I thought it was okay to pay young workers less if they are not British’.

During the last tax year, HMRC assisted around 155,000 ‘short-changed’ employees in the UK to retrieve more than £16 million which was owed to them. In addition, they also distributed more than £14 million in fines.

The Director of Individuals and Small Business Compliance, HMRC, Steve Timewell said: “The majority of UK employers pay their workers at least the National Minimum Wage, but this list shows some of the excuses provided to our enforcement officers by less scrupulous businesses.

“Being underpaid is no joke for workers, so we always apply the law and take action. Workers cannot be asked or told to sign away their rights.”

He added: “We are making sure that workers are being paid what they are entitled to and, as the economy reopens, reminding employers of the rules and the help that is available to them.

The national minimum wage differs for each individual as it is dependent on an employer’s age and experience, with under 23s receiving a lower rate than those older than 23.

The current hourly rates are:

  • £8.91 – Age 23 or over
  • £8.36 – Age 21 to 22
  • £6.56 – Age 18 to 20
  • £4.62 – Age under 18
  • £4.30 – Apprentice

As part of the government’s plan to bounce back from the pandemic, HMRC is encouraging employees to regularly monitor their pay, cash deductions and any unpaid working time.

To find out more about the National Minimum Wage, click here.

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