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Revealed: the odd excuses used by bosses for underpaying staff

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

The most bizarre excuses by unscrupulous bosses for paying their staff below the National Minimum Wage have been revealed by the government.

Excuses for not paying staff the minimum wage include only wanting to pay them when there are customers to serve and believing it was acceptable to underpay workers until they had ‘proved’ themselves.

The revelation comes as the government today launches a £1.7m awareness campaign to ensure workers know how much money they are legally entitled to, especially ahead of wage rises coming into effect on 1 April 2017.

Worst excuses for underpaying staff

Here are the top ten worst excuses by employers caught out for underpaying staff:

  1. The employee wasn’t a good worker so they didn’t think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage.
  2. It’s part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first three months as they have to ‘prove their worth’ first.
  3. A boss thought it was ok to pay foreign workers below the National Minimum Wage as they aren’t British and therefore don’t have the right to be paid it.
  4. A worker doesn’t deserve the National Minimum Wage because they only make the tea and sweep the floors.
  5. An agreement with workers that they won’t be paid the National Minimum Wage to which they understood and even signed a contract to this effect.
  6. An accountant and boss speak a different language and that’s why he doesn’t pay workers the correct wages.
  7. Workers like to think of themselves as being self-employed and the National Minimum Wage doesn’t apply to people who work for themselves.
  8. Workers are often just on standby when there are no customers in the shop; so they’re only paid when they’re actually serving someone.
  9. An employee is still learning so they aren’t entitled to the National Minimum Wage.
  10. The National Minimum Wage doesn’t apply to a particular business.

The Minimum Wage amounts

The National Minimum Wage is for those aged under 25 but the amount varies on your age. From 1 April 2017, the rates will be as follows:

  • the rate for 21 to 24 year olds will increase by 10p to £7.05 per hour
  • the rate for 18 to 20 year olds will increase by 5p to £5.60 per hour
  • the rate for 16 to 17 year olds will increase by 5p to £4.05 per hour
  • the apprentice rate will increase by 10p to £3.50 per hour

Workers aged 25 and over saw their minimum pay rise to £7.20 when the National Living Wage was introduced in April 2016. This is set to rise to £7.50 on 1 April 2017.

If you think you’re being underpaid or to report underpayment, see the government’s National Minimum Wage site or contact Acas for free help.

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.

“Every call is followed up by HMRC and we are determined to make sure everybody in work receives a fair wage.”