Excuses for not paying the minimum wage have been revealed as part of a new government campaign making sure workers know how much they are entitled to receive.
One employer said someone "wasn't a good worker", while another said he thought it was OK to pay foreign staff below the statutory rate.
HM Revenue and Customs also investigated someone who said: "She doesn't deserve the national minimum wage because she only makes the teas and sweeps the floors."
The Government has launched the £1.7 million awareness campaign to spell out the minimum wage and national living wage for older workers.
Business Minister Margot James said: "There are no excuses for underpaying staff what they are legally entitled to.
"This campaign will raise awareness among the lowest paid in society about what they must legally receive and I would encourage anyone who thinks they may be paid less to contact Acas as soon as possible.
"Every call is followed up by HMRC and we are determined to make sure everybody in work receives a fair wage."
Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union, said: "Too often companies are skimming their profits out of the pockets of their workforce. It is a continuing reminder that, for too many working people, work in this country just does not pay.
"While it is good to see the rogues being held to account in some way, the fines can only ever be a rap on the knuckles."
Stewart Gee, of the conciliation service Acas, said: "We welcome this new government awareness campaign as there are no good excuses for not paying staff what they are legally entitled to.
"Employers are breaking the law if they don't pay the national minimum wage and businesses face a maximum fine of £20,000 per worker for not paying the national living wage. Failure to pay the national living wage could also result in a company director being banned for up to 15 years."