Employers Are Still Making Excuses Not To Pay Minimum Wage


The Law Of… getting what you are due

Ahead of a £1.7million campaign to raise awareness of the minimum wage entitlement for UK workers, the government has released a list of the some of the worst excuses given by employers for not paying it.

Minimum Wage – Employers' Worst Excuses

Deana Bates, an Employment Law Solicitor at Simpson Millar, casts an eye over this inventory of insult and explains your legal rights with regards to the National Minimum Wage.

Modern-day Scrooges

"I've got an agreement with my workers that I don't pay them the National Minimum Wage; they understand and they even signed a contract to this effect."

This is one of the many risible excuses given by UK employers for not paying their workforce what they are legally entitled to. Risible, were it not for the fact that these grasping, modern-day Scrooges are not only breaking the law, but also contributing to the in-work poverty some British employees are currently experiencing.

The pitiful excuses were revealed prior to the launch of an advertising campaign intended to encourage workers to make sure they are being paid the correct amount. Business minister, Margot James, said:

"There are no excuses for underpaying staff what they are legally entitled to. This […] will raise awareness among the lowest-paid about what they must legally receive."

Although the campaign is welcome, the government's commitment to protecting workers from unscrupulous bosses has been called into question, following the recent revelation that out of almost 700 employers named and shamed for undercutting the National Minimum Wage since 2013, not a single one has faced prosecution.

The Minimum Wage And You

"She doesn't deserve the National Minimum Wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors."

This was another employer's excuse for short changing a member of staff, but it makes no difference whatsoever as to your duties within an organisation. If you are aged 16 years or over and in employment, you are entitled to the National Minimum Wage. Even if you have been pressured or misled into signing a contract that states you will work for less, it is not binding and you should be paid the legal rate, as is the right of every worker in the UK.

The level of minimum wage you are entitled to depends upon your age. The bands are as follows:

  • Apprentice – £3.40 p/hour
  • 16 to 18 – £4.00 p/hour
  • 18 to 20 – £5.55 p/hour
  • 21 to 24 – £6.95 p/hour
  • 25 and over – £7.20 p/hour (called National Living Wage)

The rates are due to rise in April 2017:

  • Apprentice – £3.50 p/hour
  • 16 to 18 – £4.05 p/hour
  • 18 to 20 – £5.60 p/hour
  • 21 to 24 – £7.05 p/hour
  • 25 and over – £7.50 p/hour (called National Living Wage)

Deana Bates comments:

"The National Minimum Wage is a legal right and the fact that exploitative employers think they can get away with not paying it underlines the need for a campaign like this. Raising awareness will hopefully prompt those in the workforce that are being ripped off, quite possibly without their knowledge, to seek some form of redress."

"The matter is not helped when there are well known organisations such as Sports Direct and Brighton & Hove Albion FC getting caught out, as it perhaps adds an air of legitimacy in the minds of others engaged in this illegal practice."

"Regardless of the size of your employer – from a multinational with offices across the globe to a one-man setup operating out of a van – they are legally obliged to pay you the minimum wage relative to your age. If this isn't the case you should report it to HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs)."

"Alternatively, you are entitled to bring a claim against your employer via an Employment Tribunal."

If you are not receiving the correct National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage and wish to seek legal advice about getting what is owed to you, contact one of our Employment Law team today.

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