The National Minium Wage is 15 years old this week and HMRC has revealed some of the more unusual reasons given to them by businesses explaining why they don’t pay their employees the legal wage.
Ten of the more elaborate reasons given in the past 12 months are:
• An employer said a woman on the premises was not entitled to NMW as she was his wife. When asked what his wife’s name was the employer said “err.. her name, err what’s your name love?..”
• An employer told HMRC: “I don’t think my workers know anything about the NMW because they don’t speak English.”
• Another employer told HMRC: “When the NMW goes up I do increase the amount I pay a little, even if the total pay is still below the NMW. I don’t think its right to ignore the rises in NMW.”
• A number of employers were paying rates below NMW, suggesting that accommodation they provided workers made up for their shortfall in wages.
• Upon inspection an employer told HMRC: “I know I am paying them too little, but they are happy to work for this amount because they are getting experience.”
• An employee claimed to be just working for a few days with a view to buying the business. When HMRC checked food safety records, the employee’s name was found on historic food temperature records.
• An employer claimed they realised they were not paying employees NMW and had just this week increased their wages… to an hourly rate which was still below the minimum wage.
• An employer told HMRC: “It wasn’t a conscious decision to say ‘I’m not going to pay this’, but I’ve never really considered doing it because I’ve not had people come to me and say, ‘I’m not getting paid enough’ or ‘Is this the minimum wage?’”
• An employee ran out of the premises when HMRC officers arrived to check for NMW infringements. The same employee then returned – minus the work pinafore – pretending to be a customer.
• Another employee claimed to be a friend of the owner and only visited the restaurant as they were in the area. HMRC officers returned another day to find the person in the kitchen preparing food.