“No excuse” for not paying the National Minimum Wage, HMRC warns

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has warned that there is never an excuse for not paying the legal minimum wage.

It comes after the regulator published the top ten most “outrageous”, “ridiculous” and “absurd” excuses for not paying workers the correct salary.

These include:

  1. “She does not deserve the National Minimum Wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors.”
  2. “The employee was not a good worker, so I did not think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage.”
  3. “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.”
  4. “My employee is still learning so they are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.”
  5. “It is part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first three months as they have to prove their ‘worth’ first.”

Commenting on the report, Steve Timewell, Director of Individuals and Small Business Compliance, HMRC, 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.

“HMRC reviews every complaint made about the minimum wage, so if you think you are being short-changed, or are a business that is unsure of the rules or needs help to get things right, get in touch and we will help you. But any employer deliberately or unapologetically underpaying their staff will face hefty fines and other enforcement action.”

It was revealed earlier this month that almost 200 companies had been “named and shamed” for failing to pay the NMW.

An investigation found that 191 employers – including John Lewis PLC, Martin McColl Retail Limited, One Stop Stores Limited, and Welcome Break Holdings Limited – failed to pay workers the correct wage between 2011 and 2018. In total, £2.1 million was owed to some 34,000 workers.

The named businesses were forced to repay workers, as well as pay £3.2 million in fines.

What is the National Minimum Wage?

From 01 April 2021, the legal minimum wage 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

For help and advice with related matters, please get in touch with our team today.

Posted in Business, Employment Law, News.