Worst excuses for not paying the minimum wage

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Cheapskate employers who fail to pay workers even the minimum wage have made some outrageous excuses for breaking the law to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Here is a list of the 10 worst excuses for not paying the minimum wage, according to tax officers visiting employers:

  • An employer claimed a woman was not entitled to the national minimum wage as she was his wife. When asked her name, the employer had no idea and had to ask her.
  • One employer told inspectors employees who don’t speak English are not entitled to the national minimum wage.
  • One worker in a pinafore ran off during an inspection and then came back without it, claiming she was a customer.
  • Another employer agreed he increased pay when the national minimum wage increased, even though he still paid less than the legal thresholds because he felt it wasn’t right to ignore the rises.
  • My workers are happy with less than minimum wage because of the experience they are gaining, said one employer.
  • When asked about pay for one particular worker, the employer claimed he was on the premises for a few days with a view to buying the business. When business papers were checked, the worker’s name turned up on documents going back several months.
  • One boss realised his staff were not getting the minimum wage, so increased their pay – to a rate that was still less than the threshold.
  • An employer thought the staff didn’t want their pay put up to minimum wage levels because they had never asked him for a rise.
  • A restaurant owner explained a man on the premises was just a friend – but on subsequent unannounced visits tax officers found him preparing food in the kitchens.
  • One boss provided accommodation for his staff and deducted the cost off the minimum wage to make up for the expense.

Jennie Granger, HMRC’s director general of enforcement and compliance, said last year, investigations saw more than 26,000 workers gained £4 million in withheld pay.

“Most employers are honest and pay their staff the correct rate,” she said. “This research shows that some still view paying the minimum wage as a choice and not an obligation, and will even try these crazy excuses to avoid paying workers what they are due.”