"The minimum wage doesn’t apply here": Let's bust more of Britain's wage cheat bosses


“The employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage.”

“It’s part of UK culture not to pay young workers for the first three months as they have to prove their ‘worth’ first”

“My workers are often just on standby when there are no customers in the shop; I only pay them for when they’re actually serving someone.”

"My workers like to think of themselves as being self-employed and the National Minimum Wage doesn’t apply to people who work for themselves."

“She doesn’t deserve the National Minimum Wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors” 

“I’ve got an agreement with my workers that I won’t pay them the National Minimum Wage; they understand and they even signed a contract to this effect.”


The latest list of feeble “excuses” from employers who’ve been caught out by HMRC investigations show how bad bosses will always look for ways to cheat their staff of even the basics.

Sometimes employers make mistakes around timesheets or defining work, but more often rogue bosses simply think employment law doesn’t apply to them, or that they’ll get away with ignoring it.

It’s worth saying that paying the minimum wage doesn’t make you a "normal" employer. Far from it. Rather it’s the least you can do without being a criminal employer. It’s hard enough to live on the minimum wage as it is, especially for younger people who have lower minimum rates. Denying workers even this low level of pay is particularly cruel.

The good work of HMRC inspectors in investigating and bringing prosecutions against minimum wage cheats is very welcome, but current enforcement needs a serious step up, with many more resources than the government are currently putting in. We estimate at least 250,000 workers are being paid less than the minimum, in both small employers and some very large ones.

And when bad bosses cheat, the taxpayer is in effect subsidising them in the increased housing benefit and Universal Credit that their staff need to get by.

Unions are ready to do their part. In 2016, Unite secured a million pounds in back pay for workers at Sports Direct, and other unions have won for workers in sectors where non-payment of the minimum wage is endemic, such as social care.

We know the minimum wage cheats are out there. Let’s have a lot more of them brought to book.

If you think you’re being paid less than the minimum wage, check our minimum wage calculator now.

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