Excuses for not paying the National Minimum Wage

HMRC has revealed a top 10 list of the worst excuses for employers not paying the National Minimum Wage (NMW) to coincide with the 15th anniversary of the NMW.

Some of these elaborate excuses include:

  • Upon inspection an employer told HMRC: “I know I am paying them too little, but they are happy to work for this amount because they are getting experience.”
  • An employer told HMRC: “It wasn’t a conscious decision to say ‘I’m not going to pay this’, but I’ve never really considered doing it because I’ve not had people come to me and say, ‘I’m not getting paid enough’ or ‘Is this the minimum wage?’”
  • An employee ran out of the premises when HMRC officers arrived to check for NMW infringements. The same employee then returned – minus the work pinafore – pretending to be a customer.
  • Another employee claimed to be a friend of the owner and only in the restaurant as they were in the area. HMRC officers returned another day to find the person in the kitchen preparing food.

Take a look at the full list of the worst excuses HMRC have received for employers not paying the minimum wage.

In the current tax year, employers must pay workers over 20 years of age at least £6.31 an hour, 18 to 20 year olds £5.03, 16 and 17 year olds £3.72. Companies that fail to do so face fines and bills for backdated wages.

Jennie Granger, Director General of Enforcement and Compliance at HMRC, said: “Most employers are honest and pay their staff the correct rate. But this research shows that some still view the national minimum wage as a choice and will even try these crazy excuses to avoid paying workers what they are due.”

HMRC said calls to its helpline from interns who are working for nothing, or for “expenses only”, are being fast tracked to enforcement officers for investigation. In 2013, these investigations resulted in more than 26,000 people getting a share of £4m in back pay.

In all seriousness it is easy to make a genuine mistake if you employ part time employees or have employees who take study leave, paying them the incorrect amount can be easily done and the fines are not to be ignored.

If you are unsure of what you should be paying your employees get in touch with our Payroll Team or call 0161 249 5040