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Client asking for work below legal minimum wage

Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
1 of 25

I know that clients with extremely low budgets are nothing new on Upwork, but what if a client is actually seeking a someone to work as their full-time employee (not a freelance contractor) and offering to pay 1/10th of the legal minimum hourly wage in their country? Shouldn't this be illegal? How do employers get away with this?

Community Guru
Barbara W Member Since: Sep 10, 2015
2 of 25

Hiring for a full-time job at less than minimum wage is illegal. But there are people who will do it without realizing it's illegal, or without caring. AFAIK this isn't the right place to post full-time jobs anyway - it's a freelancing site. (And, as freelance, it's not technically subjected to minimum wage laws, as far as I know.)

- Barbara Herrera -
Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
3 of 25

That's my point - how can it be considered a freelancing job if they want a someone to work 40 hours per week, every week, on a permanent basis? Therefore shouldn't they have to pay legal minimum wage in the country in which they're located? (Sweatshops in third world countries pay more than the amount that they're offering, BTW.) Upwork should have a moral and ethical obligation to report them to the local authorities.

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
4 of 25

You are correct, Christine, but not for the reasons you state. A regular, full-time, 40-hour-per week engagement is almost always a job (at least, as defined by U.S. law). The key legal issue there isn't minimum wage (though the company could also be liable for that), but that the company is evading its tax obligations by wilfully mischaracterizing employees as independent contractors. The IRS takes that very seriously.

 

It's in no way Upwork's responsibility (or right) to screen every job posting and make the nuanced legal assessment as to where those lines are, though. If you see a posting that you believe violates the law, you're free to report it to the appropriate authorities. 

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
5 of 25

Barbara is correct. You are not an employee--you are a business, and as such can choose to sell your services at any rate you choose. If the rate is too low, don't accept.

 

They get away with it because they are not employers, which is sort of the whole point of freelancing--running yoru own business versus being an employee. There is no law setting a minimum payment for independent contractors.

 

In any case, this is a global platform serving people whose minimum hourly wages for employment range from twenty cents per hour or less to $15/hour or more.

Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
6 of 25

See response above. I don't think a company should be here seeking full time permanent help and then getting off on a technicality by claiming that they're hiring a "freelancer". If you want someone to work 40 hours per week on an indefinite basis, then in what way are they NOT your employee? And if it's possible to get around offering minimum wage on a technicality, then what's to stop every employer from calling their employees "freelancers" and paying them slave wages?

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
7 of 25

re: "Client asking for work below legal minimum wage"

 

The "L word" is not appropriate to this discussion. This is Upwork. This is freelancing.

 

This is not about employees working in whatever local jurisdiction you happen to live in.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
8 of 25

Respectfully, Christine:

 

If you don't like the law, you should talk to your representatives and encourage them to change the law.

 

But Upwork is following the law.

 

Many of us are thankful that laws are not so restrictive that they dictate every aspect of how people do business.

 

There are many people around the world who work in different types of economies. Some of the jobs you are seeing are not interesting to you, but they are extremely welcome to other people.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 25

re: "In any case, this is a global platform serving people whose minimum hourly wages for employment range from twenty cents per hour or less to $15/hour or more"

 

Some of the world's most prosperous and successful countries have no legally-dictated minimum wage at all.

Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
10 of 25

@Preston H wrote:

 

Some of the world's most prosperous and successful countries have no legally-dictated minimum wage at all.


Prosperous and successful has to be defined within this context. Those countries may be prosperous and successful for everybody except for the workers. :-)

 

Other than that, while I generally don't agree with people speaking about minimum wages in the context of freelancing, I have to admit that I'm with the OP on this one. Full time and exclusive work for one company is not freelancing but employment.

 

I'm not for a world of freelancers, especially when the freelancers are employees in disguise as a means to avoid taxes and benefits.

 

I also admit that it is not Upwork's role to be involved with this. But the problem is real.

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