There’s just no hiding from HMRC when it comes to meeting your obligations as an employer and paying the right hourly rate. An Employment Tribunal recently ruled that employees were entitled to a higher rate of National Minimum Wage after two telecommunication companies claimed that the workers were apprentices.
Between them, the companies were ordered to pay wage arrears of almost £100,000 to 197 call centre workers and they received a penalty of £5,000 each to boot.
The lesson here is that it really doesn’t matter what you call the working arrangement. You can call your employees apprentices, get them to agree to it and pay them an apprenticeship rate but if you can’t prove that they really are apprentices, HMRC will not just take your word for it and you will be expected to pay up.