“Bizarre” excuses for not paying Minimum Wage


12th January 2017



Ten of the most bizarre excuses used by unscrupulous bosses found to have underpaid workers the National Minimum Wage have been revealed.


A list of strangest excuses for underpaying National Minimum Wage has been published as part of  a government awareness campaign to ensure workers know to how much they are legally entitled ahead of a rise in the statutory minimum ahead of the national minimum and national living wages rise on 1st April 2017.
Excuses for not paying staff the minimum wage include only wanting to pay staff when there are customers to serve and believing it was acceptable to underpay workers until they had ‘proved’ themselves.


Investigators from HMRC have revealed some of the worst excuses given to them by employers caught out for underpaying staff, which include:


“The employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage.
It’s part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first 3 months as they have to prove their ‘worth’ first.
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.”
“She doesn’t deserve the National Minimum Wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors.
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.”



“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“My employee is still learning so they aren’t entitled to the National Minimum Wage.”
“The National Minimum Wage doesn’t apply to my business.”



By law, all workers must be paid at least £7.20 an hour if they are aged 25 years and over, or the National Minimum Wage rate relevant to their age if they are younger. The National Living Wage rate for those aged 25 years and over will increase by 30p to £7.50 per hour.  The rate for 21 to 24 year olds will increase by 10p to £7.05 per hour; for 18 to 20 year olds it increases by 5 to £5.60; for 16 to 17 year olds it increases by 5p to £4.05 per hour and the apprentice rate will rise by 10p to £3.50.