Study strongly suggests pervasive wage and hour abuse of low-wage employees
This week a new study was released based on a survey of almost 4400 workers in low-wage industries. The study was created and evaluated by universities including UCLA and CUNY, with support from faculty at the University of Illinois and the National Employment Law Project. It found that wage and hour abuse of low-wage workers is pervasive and amounts to a "tax" or "conversion" of nearly 15 percent of the employees' earned wages. Among the findings:
1. "Mandatory" workers compensation systems paid medical expenses of only about six percent of low-wage employees who had been injured on the job.
2. About 39 percent of low-wage employees were illegal immigrants, 31 percent were legal immigrants and 30 percent were native-born Americans. Illegal immigrants were most likely to be cheated out of legal wages and benefits, as were women and non-whites.
3. These workers are under severe pressure not to file for workers compensation, with only about eight percent of eligible workers who suffer serious injury actually applying for comp benefits.
4. More than a quarter of the workers surveyed were paid below the minimum wage the week prior to the survey, and 76 percent were not paid overtime earned. Median wage was $8.02 per hour and fully 57 percent of the workers did not recieve mandatory pay documents intended to allow workers to confirm the accuracy and legality of their paycheck.
5. 12 percent of workers who relied on tip wages reported that their employer had stolen some amount of tip income from them.