Employment is generally meant for two objectives namely, productivity as well as provision of livelihood to workers. However, there has been debate on issues surrounding the employment environment regarding the conditions that workers are to operate on. Some of them include suitable payment systems that are to be used to remunerate the worker, the minimum and maximum workload in working environment as well as the benefits of promotions and covers (Barrow). In this study we are to focus on the issue of maximum hours and minimum wage by scrutinizing the criteria of determination, who are the losers and winners in this debate as well as the implication of the concept.
Minimum wages is the lowest payment made by the employer to its employee for the work carried out by them hourly, daily or monthly. Supporters of minimum wages say that it increases the standard of living of workers and reduces poverty. Minimum wages was first implemented in sweet manufacturing industry as a way to control the substandard wages which were provided to workers. Minimum wage laws cover workers who are usually low paid in the field of employment.
In the year 1948 Minimum wages act was mainly imposed to prevent the exploitation of workers and to ensure minimum wages to scheduled employees. The state government has the authority to fix minimum wages independently; it will always lead to disparities between neighboring states. In order to harmonize the problems of minimum wages 5 regional committees were established by the central government.
The fundamental step of undertaking the process of minimum wage and maximum pay is coming up with a clear structure on how the concept is to be undertaken. How can we determine who qualifies by what amounts in and timing? What does the law say about the issue? What are the rates that are the most appropriate and fair both to the worker and to the productivity of the company? These are some of the most basic questions that anyone can be asking on the issue of making the criteria workable.
The question of who qualifies first should be based the minimum wage is the terms of employment for instance, part time versus permanent basis. According to Williams, this reflects that the permanent one should get at least a higher minimal wage as compared to the part time because of the opportunity for the part-time one has to have multiple jobs. Educational background, marital status, the industry involved, age and gender are used today to determine what is to be payable to whom.
All these factors should be put in considerations in a manner that is optimum and fair to all. The issue of maximum hours is addressed legally according to the workers unions and other organizations. In a British system for instance a normal working week is characterized by nine to five days a week (American economic Review). However, with the increased need for continuous service provision all over the world some businesses operate seven days a week. However the system provides that a 24 days paid holiday is granted to all workers per annum. This guarantees a break as well as social involvement of the workers.
This means that the criteria of determining the best way of this concept should not only be profit driven but also people-motivated.
Most of the labour works are based on two methods of wage payment. They are:
- Time wage system
- Piece rate system.
Under Time wage system employees are paid as per the number of hours they are put in to work. The wage for each work is calculated on the basis of time period, i.e. number of hours, weeks, months etc.
Piece rate system is entirely different from time wage system. Here, priority is given to the output, more the output more will be the amount of pay. Piece wage system depends on the ability and the efficiency of the worker.
Despite the fact the argument of minimum wage maximum hours looks good in the sense that it protects the workforce there are its losers or those detrimental by the concept. They include the low skilled employs as well as the small business owners. Bruce Phillips a researcher observes that increase of the minimum wage rate destroys jobs. This is because the small owners increase the cost of business by the margin of such increases. Because their aim is to maintain their profit margin they will not employ more people. In the same breath issues of price increases for goods are inevitable for the aim of profit margin maintenance.
However, there are beneficiaries of the minimum wage. They include the poor families and the women who have extra needs and constant pay. This means that they are protected to a certain extent or limit as they can budget for the minimum amounts they receive. Affluent employees who are likely spend more also gain and this translates to a more tax bracket hence the revenue authorities for countries also gain.
When the concept is analyzed from any society developed or not, it implies that there are beneficiaries and losers in the same capacity. A study recently showed that part-time workers who include students and other middle level workers stand to gain from this concept while the businesses in this case, mostly from the service industry and the menial workers are the biggest losers (Sandqvist).
This implies that there are additional job cuts, reduced wage increases for the direct workers and reduced working hours for each worker meaning there will be increased prices of the services and goods that are on offer. In addition to that, the employers in such scenarios tend not to employ workers on a permanent basis rather, they employ on the contractual or semi permanent basis to avoid a further expense on retirement benefits or mandatory pension set by the government.
Second it can be attributed that service industry tend to be too competitive and price can be a factor to be on the edge of the market share. The players in this case may not risk passing the costs to the customer when they adopt such concepts hence they may not break even as desired.
However, on a positive note, such measures of maximum working hours have a benefit in the sense that they provide a social environment where workers don turn to machine like elements. This too reduces chances of depression due to the optimum working environment set by the law.
The government has instituted labor laws that govern maximum hours that employees will have to work for and the minimum wages to be received. This has been done for the purposes of ensuring fairness and minimizing on exploitation of employers to their employees. It is required that they comply with such rules to facilitate good work ethos. Labor laws have been set to govern different forms of jobs in the market; this has to do with the skills required as well as the output of the employees. Apart from the fact that employees have to agree to the terms of their employment before accepting a certain deal, a deal may only be considered fair under legal terms if they are in accordance with the labor laws (Sandqvist). This means that an applicant may sure their prospective employers if they find them to violate certain labor laws. For instance, if an applicant will be required to work for more hours, yet they are not being paid extra, it is considered illegal.
The law may only relax on the issue of minimum wages if the employee works for lesser hours than the law requires it. For instance, if minimum working hours have been set at 8 hrs a day for a wage of 5 dollars a day, then an employee who agrees to work for 5 hours a day for a compensation of three dollars will be considered to be fair. The rule is hence only applicable when for instance an employee is required to work for ten hours a day yet he or she only receives 5 dollars (Sandqvist). This is considered an overwork that the employee should pay extra as per the agreement. Most of the wage employees are however not informed of such laws that generally make them to be exploited. Some of them may also be threatened if they complain of the same. It is hence necessary to implement the laws as well as sensitize the communities to enhance justice for all.
So it is clear that wages have a direct relationship with time. Minimum wages is the lowest rate which is provided to a worker for rendering his services. The companies around the globe (both large scale & small scale) will provide only minimum wages to its workers (unskilled & semiskilled workers) and put them in to work for a greater time span. "Minimum wages and Maximum hours" this attitude of employers should be changed, workers should be provided wages as per their efficiency and ability. It would be better to consider either piece rate or time wage system while deciding on the wage payment.
The issues of minimum and maximum factors of the working environment have both advantages and disadvantages. The debate concerning the pros and cons too is endless depending on the timing and the ones in questions. In this note it is better to consider the benefits versus the detriments before any implementation.