National minimum wage

Print publication


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 the legal wage. Some elaborate excuses given to HMRC were:

  • “I know I am paying them too little, but they are happy to work for this amount because they are getting experience.”
  • “It wasn’t a conscious decision to say ‘I’m not going to pay this’, but I’ve never really considered doing it because I’ve not had people come to me and say, ‘I’m not getting paid enough’ or ‘Is this the minimum wage?’”
  • “I don’t think my workers know anything about the NMW because they don’t speak English.”
  • “When the NMW goes up I do increase the amount I pay a little, even if the total pay is still below the NMW. I don’t think it’s right to ignore the rises in NMW.”

These are obviously the slightly incredible ‘headline grabbers’, but the reality is that many breaches of NMW are simply due to an administrative, payroll or time-recording failure (e.g. failing to record ‘on call’ time or time driving between work appointments as working time). It is worth checking your processes periodically to ensure that ‘hidden’ working time isn’t being missed inadvertently.

Record number of older workers
According to recent research, a growing number of the UK workforce is now aged 65 and over; the figure is twice as many as in 1992. UK demographics mean that this trend is set to increase and is inevitably being recognised in many organisation’s workforce and succession planning, staff retention policies and talent management. It underlines the importance of ensuring a fair balance of equality of opportunity for employees and job applicants from all age groups.