HM Revenue and Customs
HMRC reveals absurd excuses for not paying National Minimum Wage
- Also published by:
- Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
By law, workers must be paid at least the minimum wage for their age – here are 10 outrageous excuses employers have used to try and flout the rules.
While the vast majority of employers pay their employees at least the National Minimum Wage, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has today released some of the most absurd excuses used for not paying the legal minimum.
In the 2020 to 2021 tax year, HMRC helped more than 155,000 workers across the UK recover more than £16 million in pay which was due to them, and also issued more than £14 million in penalties.
Some of the most ridiculous excuses for flouting the law included:
- “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.”
- “I thought it was okay to pay young workers below the National Minimum Wage as they are not British and therefore do not have the right to be paid it.”
- “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.”
- “My workers are often just on standby when there are no customers in the shop; I only pay them for when they are actually serving someone.”
Steve Timewell, Director 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.
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.
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.
The National Minimum Wage hourly rates are currently:
- £8.91 – Age 23 or over (National Living Wage)
- £8.36 – Age 21 to 22
- £6.56 – Age 18 to 20
- £4.62 – Age under 18
- £4.30 – Apprentice
HMRC is reminding workers to check the hourly rate of pay they are actually getting, and to also check any deductions or unpaid working time, as part of the government’s commitment to build back fairer from the pandemic.
Anyone not being paid what they are entitled to can complain via GOV.UK.
If they want to speak with someone, in confidence, they should phone the Acas Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0300 123 1100, who can transfer the call to HMRC.
Employers can also contact the Acas Helpline for free help and advice or visit the National Minimum Wage guidance on GOV.UK to find out more.
Latest News from
HM Revenue and Customs
Time to get ready for Self Assessment12/10/2021 15:20:00
The deadline to complete a tax return for the 2020 to 2021 tax year is approaching.
Time is running out for tax credits and Child Benefit customers with Post Office card accounts06/10/2021 15:20:00
HMRC urges tax credits and Child Benefits customers with a Post Office card account to update HMRC with their new bank account details by 30 November 2021.
Working Tax Credit customers must report changes to working hours29/09/2021 10:15:00
HMRC is urging Working Tax Credit customers to check if they need to update their working hours if these have reduced as a result of coronavirus.
Businesses get more time to prepare for digital tax changes23/09/2021 16:05:00
Making Tax Digital for Income Tax will now be introduced in April 2024.
Tax gap remains low at 5.3%16/09/2021 14:25:00
The difference between the the total amount of tax expected to be paid and the total amount of tax paid for the 2019 to 2020 tax year is 5.3%.
New Chief Executive appointed to lead Valuation Office Agency10/09/2021 11:20:00
Jonathan Russell appointed as VOA's Chief Executive.
HMRC warns students of scams08/09/2021 13:05:00
HMRC is warning university students to be wary of potential scams, especially if they have a part-time job and are new to interacting with the department.
Thousands of teenagers missing out on Child Trust Fund cash07/09/2021 15:20:00
Teenagers are being urged by HMRC to check if they have a pot of money waiting for them in a Child Trust Fund.