Tales of an HR Services Expert – Day 14: Minimum Wage

Doing employees a favour doesn’t always work

I was approached by a company to help with a situation that was baffling them.

They had employed someone who wasn’t really as experienced as they would have liked, but they liked him and created a job for him.

However what they also did was pay him less than minimum wage.

All went well for a couple of years. Then out of the blue this guy turns around and says that he has been advised that he is entitled to £5000 for unlawful deductions from earnings, i.e. that he hasn’t been paid minimum wage.

There is no defence in these cases. Either you have paid it or not. There is no justification for not paying it.

The boss was astounded and possibly a little naïve. He had given the guy a chance to gain experience and a job, but he still needed to pay minimum wage. If he couldn’t afford to do that for a full time job, then he should have offered part time. Or nothing at all.

We all do favours for people, trying to help them out, and it pays to remember the official rules for this when helping employees. I bet that if I had asked the boss at the beginning of the relationship whether there was any danger, he would have said that this guy would NEVER do anything like this. They never do, until they do!

PS And they came to an agreement on the outstanding money, helped by the fact that this guy conveniently found a better job to move to, thanks to the experience he gained at the first company!

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