The National Minimum Wage has been in place for more than two decades. It currently stands at £8.91 per hour for adults over the age of 23 (The National Living Wage), while the lowest figure is £4.30 per hour for an apprentice.
While a sizeable number of breaches will be down to errors or incorrect interpretation of the rules, a few unscrupulous employers are abusing it and have come up with some dubious excuses for not paying what is a legal requirement.
HMRC has listed published some outrageous excuses for not paying:
- She does not deserve the National Minimum Wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors.
- The employee was not a good worker, so I did not think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage.
- My accountant and I speak a different language – he does not understand me, and that is why he does not pay my workers the correct wages.
- My employee is still learning so they are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.
- It is part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first three months as they have to prove their ‘worth’ first.
- The National Minimum Wage does not apply to my business.
- I have got an agreement with my workers that I will not 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 does not apply to people who work for themselves.
HMRC says it has issued more than £14 million in penalties to employers who failed to pay the correct rate of the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage in the 2020/2021 tax year.
More than £16 million in unpaid salaries was also recovered which should have been paid to more than 155,000 workers across the UK.