NMW excuses

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To coincide with the 15th anniversary of the National Minimum Wage (NMW), HMRC has revealed some of the more unusual reasons given by employers for not paying their employees the legal wage say Harris & CO accountants Northampton

The reasons given include one employer who said that a woman was not entitled to NMW as she was his wife, but then asked his ‘wife’ what her name was. Another employer thought that he did not need to pay his employees the NMW because they did not speak English.

Jennie Granger, Director General of Enforcement and Compliance, HMRC, also took the opportunity to say that ‘Last year, HMRC’s investigations resulted in over 26,000 people getting a share of £4 million in back pay. HMRC investigate all complaints of employers failing to pay minimum wage. We will take action to recover back pay for employees and fine employers who are not playing by the rules.’

Anyone who believes they are not being paid the NMW can call the Pay and Work Rights helpline on 0800 917 2368.

The Low Pay Commission’s 2013 annual report, National Minimum Wage, published in April 2013, outlined some of the difficulties in applying NMW law to volunteers and similar individuals. The report acknowledged that HMRC were targeting enforcement of unlawful internships which breach the NMW but still the Low Pay Commission continues to receive evidence of widespread non-payment of the minimum wage for positions that appear to be work. Given this priority area calls to the helpline from interns who are working for nothing, or for ‘expenses only’, are being fast-tracked for investigation.

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