The current minimum wage is set at £6.31 and set to increase by 19 pence to £6.50 this October. The rate is not uniform and differs depending on the age bracket people fall into.
18-20 year olds have a NMW level set at £5.03, this will increase by 10 pence in October to £5.13.
16 and 17 year olds NMW will go from £3.72 to £3.79 in October, with apprentices seeing a rise from £2.68 to £2.73.
These levels have been considered to be too low and there has been consideration given to reach a £7 per hour minimum by October 2015. Some employers, however are still exploiting employees by paying below current levels.
Investigations carried out have resulted in over 26,000 people being compensated for having pay rates below NMW - a share of £4 million.
HMRC today compiled a list of popular excuses used to avoid paying at least at NMW level - a standard that was first introduced 15 years ago.
Top 10 worst excuses
An employer when quizzed why a female working at his business was not being paid at NMW stated they were married - thus not entitled. However, when asked what her name was, he responded by asking her: “..Err, her name? What’s your name, love?”.
“My employees don’t speak English, so they’re not entitled to it” - this was deemed acceptable when considering how much to pay staff by one employer.
On the arrival of HMRC officers , one employer ran out of the business premises, changed out his work pinafore and then returned claiming to be a customer.
One employer decided to follow rises in the NMW by choosing the amount of the rise - rather than follow the minimum level set by the Government.
As long as the staff are happy getting experience it is acceptable to pay below the minimum level - this was the argument put forward by an employer upon inspection.
Lying about the length of service was used by one employer. The employee was stated to have only worked a few days, in order to inspect the business with a view to buying it. Once records were checked by HMRC, the same temporary employee has stamped their name on old food temperature documents.
An employer was caught paying staff below minimum wage, but went queried claimed pay had been increased just that week. Unfortunately the hourly rate was still below the NMW.
Employees haven’t asked for a pay rise, or questioned their pay level - this was why one employer paid below NMW level.
HMRC officers found an employee working in a restaurant kitchen whom they had previously been told was just a friend.
Employers providing staff accommodation thought it was ok to reduce pay below NMW in lieu.
There are 16 enforcement teams working across the UK, following up complaints regarding below minimum wage employers. Anyone with information for the teams can contact the Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0800 917 2368.