Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Minimum Wage & The Disabled

Phillip Davies MP has suggested that the disabled should be allowed to work for below the minimum wage has provoked a lot of outrage. This was predictable and it was probably unwise of Davies to suggest it.

It does make some sense though. Working for a living is in most cases beneficial to people- and being out of work long term is draining. Simply getting on the bottom rung of the employment ladder is beneficial in itself and has the potential to lead to higher paying work in the future as skills are developed and contacts made.

Once someone is at the peak of their profession even very serious disabilities may not affect their ability to do their job too much- to take an extreme example Frank Williams has been able to run his motor racing team for quarter of a century since suffering paralysis from the neck down. However in most entry level jobs even a modest disability can damage one's productivity be it stacking shelves or admin work- yet it is these positions that are most critical in setting up a working life.

Even most left wing economists accept that the minimum wage increases unemployment. There isn't much doubt that the minimum wage cuts the employment rates of groups who are relatively less skilled- the young (who have a lower minimum wage), ethnic groups with lower educational attainment and the disabled.

Of course the best solution would be no minimum wage but that isn't going to happen any time soon.


JuliaM said...

The problem is (even if those willing to work for less than the minimum wage weren't liable to be undercut by uncontrolled immigration) the 'reasonable adjustments' that need to be made to accommodate the disabled...

Lee said...

I'm 49 years old, have Asperger's syndrome and have never had a job.

I need to be able to offer an employer something so that he will at least just consider giving me a job; and I reckon that his being able to pay me less than statutory minimum wage might just do it.

I doubt I would be any worse off than actually being paid a proper wage because of the complex interactions between the various benefits I receive and the amount of money I have to pay to social services for my care. In effect a wages subsidy would be in operation.

I desperately want to work, and need to work, so that I can fully contribute to, and participate in, society; and strive to become the best person I'm capable of becoming - and the minimum wage legislation is hindering me in my search for employment.

Senior said...

People should be able to begin working without having to work for less than the minimum wage. The danger is that after the period of time a person was willing to work for less than the minimum wage expires, the employer could dishonestly say the person isn't good enough, and replace the person with more cheap labour. The learning and mentally disabled could be treated like that by several employers.

Ross said...

Lee- I'm sorry to hear that. Would volunteer work be any good, by helping demonstrate that you are perfectly capable of doing what you want to do?

Julia- Yes that's a problem too. I'm not sure how it can be dealt with though.

Senior- Firms can do that now, just at figures above the minimum wage.

Anonymous said...

How about abolishing employers NI for people who earn the minimum wage?
That would make it easier.


I am very sorry about your problem.
However the minimum wage did not exist until you were about 35 so it is not the only problem. I will pray for y ou.


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