The government has published a list of the strangest excuses given by employers for failing to pay the National Minimum Wage (NMW).

The list was published last week to coincide with a new awareness campaign to encourage workers to check their pay to ensure they are receiving at least the statutory minimum ahead of the national minimum and national living wages rising on 1 April 2017.

The list of excuses included the following:

  1. The employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the NMW.
  2. I thought it was ok to pay foreign workers below the NMW as they aren’t British.
  3. The employee didn’t deserve the NMW because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors.
  4. I’ve got an agreement with my workers that I won’t pay them the NMW; they understand and they even signed a contract to this effect.
  5. My workers like to think of themselves as being self-employed and the NMW doesn’t apply to people who work for themselves.
  6. My workers are often just on standby when there are no customers in the shop; I only pay them for when they’re actually serving someone.
  7. My employee is still learning so they aren’t entitled to the NMW.
  8. The NMW doesn’t apply to my business.

By law, all workers must be paid at least £7.20 an hour if they are aged 25 years and over, or the National Minimum Wage rate relevant to their age if they are younger.

From 1 April 2017, the NMW rate will increase to:

  • £3.50 per hour for apprentices (an increase of 10p)
  • £4.05 per hour for 16 to 17 year olds (an increase of 5p)
  • £5.60 per hour for 18 to 20 year olds (an increase of 5p)
  • £7.05 per hour for 21 to 24 year olds (an increase of 10p)

The National Living Wage rate will increase to £7.50 per hour for those aged 25 and over.

Jo Seery of Thompsons Solicitors said, “workers have been entitled to the National Minimum Wage for more than 17 years so there is no excuse for employers to pay below the legal entitlement.

Yet according to the National Audit office, some 58,000 workers in 2015-2016 were underpaid the National Minimum Wage. This compares with just 3 out of 700 employers who were prosecuted for failing to pay the National Minimum Wage.

In response the Government has launched a 1.7 million advertisement campaign to raise awareness but it needs to take immediate action to ensure the law is properly enforced.”