Employer ‘believed foreigners were not entitled to minimum wage’
An employer did not pay his workers the minimum wage because “they aren’t British and therefore don’t have the right to be paid it”, according to a Government dossier.
HMRC investigators have made public some of the reasons unscrupulous employers gave when quizzed on why they did not pay the legal minimum.
Other reasons included that their employee “wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid” the wage, and a claim that it was “part of UK culture” for people to work at a reduced rate for the first three months.
The list of excuses comes just months after the Government was criticised for the low number of prosecutions for not paying the wage.
Just three out of 700 firms were prosecuted for paying below the minimum wage since February 2014, despite more than 13,000 workers being underpaid by over £3.5bn.
The Government is today launching an “awareness campaign” to encourage workers to check their pay and report their employers.
Other reasons given by employers include “my workers are often just on standby when there are no customers in the shop” and “my employers like to think of themselves as being self-employed”, HMRC said.
It comes after a spate of tribunals ruled against a number of so called “gig economy” employers who claimed their workers were self-employed and did not deserve the minimum wage. Minicab firm Uber and a courier service were both on the end of such rulings.
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.”
HMRC’s list of employer excuses:
1. The employee wasn’t a good worker so I 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. I 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. She doesn’t deserve the National Minimum Wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors.
5. I’ve got an agreement with my workers that I won’t pay them the National Minimum Wage; they understand and they even signed a contract to this effect.
6. 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.
7. My 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. 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.
9. My employee is still learning so they aren’t entitled to the National Minimum Wage.
10. The National Minimum Wage doesn’t apply to my business.
Independent News Service