INVESTIGATORS have revealed 10 of the most bizarre excuses given by unscrupulous employers for not paying staff the National Minimum Wage, including they “didn’t deserve it” and “I only pay them for when they’re actually serving someone”.

The list is published today by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to coincide with a £1.7 million awareness campaign to encourage workers to check their pay to make sure they are receiving at least the statutory minimum ahead of the national minimum and national living wage rises on April 1.

For those aged 25 and over, the National Living Wage will increase by 30p to £7.50 per hour. The National Minimum Wage will rise by 10p to £7.05 per hour for 21 to 24-year-olds; by 5p to £5.60 for 18 to 20-year-olds; 16 to 17-year-olds will see an increase of 5p to £4.05 per hour and the apprentice rate will increase by 10p to £3.50 per hour.

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The campaign is aimed at making sure workers are being paid at least the National Minimum Wage, or National Living Wage, depending on their age.

Among the other craziest excuses were: “The employee wasn’t a good worker so I didn’t think they deserved to be paid the National Minimum Wage”; “I thought it was OK to pay foreign workers below the National Minimum Wage as they aren’t British and therefore don’t have the right to be paid it”; “She doesn’t deserve the National Minimum Wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors”; and: “My accountant and I speak a different language – he doesn’t understand me and that’s why he doesn’t pay my workers the correct wages”.

Pat Rafferty, Scottish secretary of the Unite union told The National: “The best protection for workers is when they come together to protect themselves – and that means joining a trade union.

“For years, we have seen the growth of a low-wage economy, with insecure jobs where people don’t know if they’ll be getting paid work from day to day. It’s no coincidence that this has happened at a time when trade union membership has fallen.

“It’s also time to start taking these employers to court. Naming and shaming them isn’t enough, and HMRC and the Government need to enforce the law as a warning to rogue employers everywhere.”