The government has revealed some of the outrageous excuses of bad bosses who fail to pay the minimum wage.
“She only makes the tea and sweeps the floors” was among the top 10 contemptible reasons given by companies which cheated staff of proper pay. Other excuses not to pay the minimum wage include claims that the employee “wasn’t a good worker” and that it is “OK” not to if they are foreign.
The findings were released by the government as part of a new £1.7 million awareness campaign to ensure workers know their rights.
By law all workers must be paid at least £7.20 an hour if they are aged 25 and over - but sadly far less if they are younger.
Many companies have been caught not paying even these poverty rates, claiming they didn’t think they had to pay out if their workers were still learning, or the minimum wage doesn’t apply to their business or even getting workers to sign worthless and uneforceable contracts to agree they won’t be paid it.
One cheating boss said: “It’s part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first three months as they have to prove their ‘worth’ first.”
The excuses were all given by employers to HMRC officers investigating underpayment of the minimum wage, which can lead to fines of up to £20,000 per worker. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s not fair that decent employers who respect and pay their staff well should be undercut by bad bosses who exploit staff and cheat them out of pay.”
Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented: "We favour strong enforcement of the law on minimum wage rates. In particular we would like to see company directors banned for 15 years if they don't pay it - a power that exists already. Whilst we support the minimum wage in itself it will not deal with in-work poverty. The role of collective bargaining has been undermined much to the detriment of ordinary workers. We also need worker representation on company boards and renumeration committees. The idea of a ratio between the wages of ordinary workers and those at the top is worthy of debate and Jeremy Corbyn was right to raise it."