Business

Bosses' bizarre excuses for failing to pay minimum wage

Cash and pay slip Image copyright PA

A boss failed to pay the minimum wage to a worker because "she only makes the teas" - one of a string of bizarre excuses by employers.

Another argued for not paying the legal minimum, saying that a member of staff "wasn't a good worker", while one said employees should "prove their worth".

The excuses, heard by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), were published as part of a government awareness campaign.

It is encouraging people to check their wages and warning employers of fines.

Business Minister Margot James said: "There are no excuses for underpaying staff what they are legally entitled to.

"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 as soon as possible."

All workers must be paid at least £7.20 an hour if they are aged 25 and over, in order to comply with the National Living Wage.

The National Minimum Wage means that:

  • Workers aged 21 to 24 should receive a legal minimum of £6.95 an hour
  • Staff aged 18 to 20 should get at least £5.55 an hour
  • Pay should be at least £4 an hour for the under-18s
  • Apprentices should receive a minimum of £3.40 an hour

Among the cases investigated by HMRC was a boss who thought it was acceptable to pay foreign staff below the statutory rate.

It also heard from one employer who said: "She doesn't deserve the national minimum wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors."

Another said: "My accountant and I speak a different language - he doesn't understand me and that's why he doesn't pay my workers the correct wages."

Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, said: "Too often, companies are skimming their profits out of the pockets of their workforce. It is a continuing reminder that, for too many working people, work in this country just does not pay.

"While it is good to see the rogues being held to account in some way, the fines can only ever be a rap on the knuckles."

Stewart Gee, of the conciliation service Acas, said: "We welcome this new government awareness campaign, as there are no good excuses for not paying staff what they are legally entitled to.

"Employers are breaking the law if they do not pay the national minimum wage and businesses face a maximum fine of £20,000 per worker for not paying the national living wage. Failure to pay the national living wage could also result in a company director being banned for up to 15 years."

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