Homeworkers may see closure of minimum wage loophole

The
Government has published proposals to close a loophole in the law which allows
employers to avoid paying homeworkers the national minimum wage.

Under
current regulations, employers can estimate the time an average worker takes to
complete the task.

Employment
Relations Minister Alan Johnson said: "These people deserve fair pay for a
fair day’s work. Homeworkers and their employers have told us that the rules in
this area have not been working well and we are determined to help them.

"The
national minimum wage is one of this Government’s finest achievements, but we
are not complacent when it comes to enforcing the rules and when necessary, we
will tighten them up."

DTI
proposals in its consultation paper could lead to the minimum wage for all
hours worked or a "fair piece rate". 

There
are more than 700,000 homeworkers in the UK.

Director
of the National Group of Homeworkers, Linda Devereux, said: "We welcome
any changes that make it easier for homeworkers to work out whether their piece
rate equates to the national minimum wage. The new rules should simplify the
process and make it more difficult for employers to exploit homeworkers, who
can, at the moment, legally pay homeworkers only four-fifths of the minimum
wage."

By Paul Nelson

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