Top 10 bizarre excuses for underpaying staff National Minimum Wage

There’s no excuse for underpaying staff the National Minimum Wage. But try telling these employers that…

The HMRC has recently revealed the most bizarre excuses employers have given for not paying their staff properly.

Here are 10 of the strangest…

  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 3 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.”

From 1st April 2017, the National Minimum Wage rates per hour is:

  • 21-24 year olds  = £7.05 per hour
  • 18-20 year olds = £5.60 per hour
  • 16-17 year olds = £4.05 per hour
  • Apprentices = £3.50

The National Living Wage rate for those aged 25 years and over increased to £7.50 per hour from 1st April 2017.

If you’re an employee and you think you may have been underpaid, go to and Acas for free advice.

If you’re an employer and need advice on the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage, get in touch with us today for a no-obligation chat.

And if you’ve used any of those ten excuses above, consider this your final warning.


Need advice? Get in touch today

Please call Ted Flanagan on 01482 324252.

Or email Ted here.

You can find out more about our Employment Law services here.

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