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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2009): Minimum Wage - UK

The National Minimum Wage, low pay and the UK hotel industry: the case of room attendants

C. Warhurst, C. Lloyd and E. Dutton

Sociology, vol. 42, 2008, p. 1228-1236

This article examines the impact of the national minimum wage and the issue of non-compliance in the UK hotel industry, where low-paid employment is widespread. This qualitative research includes employees' experiences and shows that, even when employers are arguably able to pay, non-compliance arises from specific management practices centred around demands for flexibility. Even where employers do comply, these practices create an additional income precariousness for room attendants. Room attendants could be paid a fixed rate for each room cleaned, causing their pay to dip if the hotel was not full and fewer rooms needed cleaning. They also ended up working overtime unpaid if the rooms were messy and took longer to clean than the management allowed.

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