The government has launched an awareness campaign to ensure employees are getting paid the regulatory minimum wage
Even though it’s illegal not to pay the national minimum wage, some bosses still seem to think they can get away with it. The government is sick of their excuses, which is why it’s set in motion a £1.7m campaign revealing the worst reasons given by employers for not paying the national minimum wage.
These excuses range from claiming the “employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the national minimum wage” to “I thought it was okay 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.” One employer even claimed they hadn’t been paying the right wage because their account spoke a different language and therefore hadn’t understood the importance.
While these excuses are occasionally entertaining, the government doesn’t see this as a laughing matter. “There are no excuses for underpaying staff what they are legally entitled to,” said Margot James, the small business minister. “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.”
By law, all workers must be paid at least £7.20 an hour if they’re aged 25 years and over or the national minimum wage rate relevant to their age if they’re younger. Failure to pay the regulatory minimum wage could see employers fined and brought before a tribunal, even if a worker only “makes the teas and sweeps the floors.” And both the national minimum wage and the national living wage are set to rise on April 1 this year, so businesses will need to make the necessary adjustments then too.
Faced with potential fines and even the risk of tarnishing their brand’s reputation, it certainly seems like a no-brainer for employers to ensure their staff get what they deserve.