The list of what the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy calls the worst excuses given by bosses found to have underpaid their workers has been published to coincide with a new £1.7m advertising campaign, starting next month, to encourage people to check their pay ahead of rises to the national minimum wage and the national living wage from April.
HMRC investigators revealed that reasons given by underpaying bosses include: that it was part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first three months; ‘She doesn’t deserve the national minimum wage because she only makes the tea and sweeps the floors’; ‘I thought it was ok to pay foreign workers below the national minimum wage as they aren’t British’; and ‘My workers are often just on standby when there are no customers in the shop – I only pay for them when they are actually serving someone.’
The Government wants to encourage workers to regularly check their pay to ensure they are receiving at least the minimum or living wage, dependent on their age.
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.’
Last year, nine nurseries out of 200 businesses were ‘named and shamed’ on the Government’s annual list of those who hadn’t complied with the national minimum wage, a number inadvertently because of confusion over payment rules.
By law, all workers must be paid the national living wage rate of £7.20 an hour if they are 25 or over, which will rise to £7.50 an hour from 1 April.
From April, the national minimum wage will rise to:
- £7.05 for21- to 24-year-olds;
- £5.60 an hour for 18- 20-year-olds;
- £4.05 an hour for 16-17-year-olds;
- £3.50 an hour for the apprentice rate.
HMRC’s enforcement budget rose from £13m to £20m in April 2016, increasing the number of compliance officers available to investigate complaints. An extra £4.3m in enforcement funding was announced in the Autumn Statement.