Thursday, June 23, 2011

Learning Difficulties and the Minimum Wage

I have written here about Paul. My experience of working with Paul informs my understanding of the current debate about whether reducing the minimum wage would make it easier for people with difficulties to get on the bottom rung of the earnings' ladder.

It is a fascinating discussion. On the one hand the current legislation defines our desire as a society not to take advantage of people and to make sure that all employees are treated with dignity. On the other, the gap between the minimum wage and benefits for, especially, single people, does seem to reduce the number of low paid jobs available.

Paul was a guy who had severe difficulties and could only handle thinking about very low sums of money. The pocket money we gave him to hoover the church provided him with a small amount to handle and budget each week. All his other needs were looked after.

I think it is this last sentence that is important. If an employer is willing to take the risk, and invest the time, in a person of limited ability, where all that person's other reasonable needs are taken care of, why not allow an exception?

Because it would be exploited? Maybe. Does that make it wrong?

This issue is not as black and white as some are making it sound.

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