The legal implications of low-wage work


An employment position which involves low-wage work (also known as wage labour) is a contractual relationship between an employee and an employer. The employees are usually paid an hourly rate for work that they provide. Like most other employment contracts the employer provides consideration (usually a monetary sum) for a specified period of time in which the employee works.

Low-wage work differs from other forms of employment in three ways:

1) Other methods of employment can include a task to be completed, so for example construction contractors will be paid for a completed task rather than for the hours they put in

2) The type of work associated with the low-wage work is usually physical work or manual labour, such as is commonly found in agriculture

3) The nature of low-wage work is temporary

However, the law does not distinguish between low-wage work and other methods of employment. There is no legal definition for low-wage work and therefore no specific area of law that governs it. The terms of a low-wage employment contract largely depend on the experience of the employee, the industry and the location for their form and each employment contract may give rise to different employment disputes.

The legal basis of these disputes is found in general employment law.

Forced labour

Low-wage work is often associated with slavery and forced labour. Historically speaking, this association is accurate, however in modern times the ethical questionability of low-wage work is much less of an issue. In the past there was no need for the employee to agree to the terms of the employment arrangement.

Since there was no requirement for the consideration to be monetary, the employers who provided food or shelter to the forced labourers were creating a low-wage employment relationship.

If you have a dispute relating to low-wage work, it is important to find out the rights associated with the employment contract. The legal ramifications of your employment contract are critical for a successful resolution of any employment dispute.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on low-wage work, Contact Law can put you in touch with a local employment solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local employment solicitors please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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