HMRC slams ‘absurd excuses’ from employers who underpaid workers

Employers used justifications such as training employees or their citizenship status to claim they didn’t realise they needed to pay certain workers minimum wage.

In an effort to further deter businesses from failing their duties in paying minimum wage, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has released a list of what it called “absurd excuses” used by businesses who were caught underpaying employees.

Many employers justified their failure to pay minimum wage by citing false exceptions to the law.

Training employees, claiming their business was exempt, or creating unlawful workarounds such as having workers on “standby” in a business premises unless they are actively serving customers were three such examples.

Others used the employee’s standard of work, their citizenship status, or language barriers to excuse themselves from properly compensating employees.

One employer claimed to have instituted contracts with workers who agreed to a lower level of pay.

Steve Timewell, director of individuals and small business compliance at HMRC, reminded workers and businesses alike that employees cannot be asked or told to sign-away their rights.

“HMRC reviews every complaint made about the minimum wage, so if you think you are being short-changed, or are a business that is unsure of the rules or needs help to get things right, get in touch and we will help you. But any employer deliberately or unapologetically underpaying their staff will face hefty fines and other enforcement action,” Mr Timewell said.

This release of employer excuses comes two weeks after HMRC published a list of 191 businesses that failed to pay minimum wage, in an attempt to “name and shame” as a warning to others.

Source Financial Accountant click here to read more.

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