Incentives for Piece Work

Crafts are an example of piece work.

Many work for hire opportunities offer incentives for piece work, but before taking on such a job do your research. It may seem like a great money-making opportunity, but often stipulations can cause you to work hard for little money.

Piece Work Defined

When you are hired for piece work, it means you get paid per piece completed, no matter how much time it takes. Crafts assembled at home and sent back to the company for pay are examples of piece work.

Another example is when a contractor gives you a bid on a project. Though he tries to estimate how long it will take to complete, the project could take more or less time. Piece work dates back to ancient societies where it was not uncommon to barter work or completed projects for food. It continued throughout the centuries and is prevalent in the history of the textile industry, which is known for paying by the piece. In England, these jobs were completed at home and brought in for pay.

Later sweatshops grew in popularity where women and children were paid per item completed at the factory. The work environment, however, was unhealthy and employees were not treated with respect. This abuse of labor gave piece work a negative connotation.

Incentives for Piece Work

Many philosophers believe that people work harder when given the incentive to be paid per production or item completed instead of time worked. If money is the motivator, then employees and contractors work harder and longer hours to finish more projects. In this philosophy, employers are not required to pay overtime for slow workers.

The Other Side

The other side of the debate fuels fears that incentives based upon piece completed leads to inferior work and that these practices are unfair to those who are faster. When trying to get as much done as possible, workers cut corners and quality suffers.

Minimum Wage Guarantee

The 1949 amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 changed the pay scale for piece work by forcing employers to pay a minimum wage. Even though they were forced to pay a wage, they continued to use piece work as an incentive for higher productivity. Those who worked harder and faster had the potential to make more money.

However, the minimum guarantee was often very low, and as workers became more efficient, the pay would drop per piece completed to keep costs down. The employees health and time was not as important to factory owners as production.

Piece Work Today

Piece work is still used today, but in different forms. Here are some examples:

  • Waiters at a restaurant get paid in tips for a job well done
  • Telemarketers get bonuses per call or sale completed
  • Seamstresses gets paid per item altered, or dress completed
  • Carpet cleaners are often paid per room
  • Artists and crafters are paid per item completed and sold
  • A Pooper scooper business owner is paid per yard completed, instead of time cleaning

When Piece Work is Good

The best incentives for piece work go towards the experienced and efficient workers.

Consumers today often contract workers to finish projects, such as a dress or to redo a bathroom. With all the competition, contractors need to be competitive in their pricing when giving a bid. Those who are fast and offer quality work come out ahead when being paid per project.

For a professional seamstress who knows how to efficiently use a sewing machine and read patterns, she can finish a dress in less time then she is charging the client. However, for someone who is slower and just learning, it is better to charge less for the same dress until she builds her expertise and reputation, because it will take her longer to complete.

Home Assembly Jobs

One example of piecework often advertised is home assembly jobs or crafts. The incentives for piece work are challenged when you are not guaranteed pay for each completed items, which is a common trick used by these companies.

If you are considering one of these work-at-home offers, be careful. Many of these jobs are scams that require you to purchase materials up front. These materials are then mailed to you. You complete the crafts at home and mail them back for inspection. The company then pays you for each approved craft.

Once you send in the items, many companies are extra picky on which crafts are approved and at times even a perfect item is denied, meaning you don't get paid. You are now out the materials, shipping, and your time.

Do Your Homework

The best way to avoid being scammed is to research any company who asks you to pay them money.

Whether you are a business owner looking for incentives for piece work to offer your employees or a contractor looking to make some extra money, make sure each item or project is paid what it is worth. As a contractor, you do not have to accept the job if your hourly pay and expenses are unrealistic.

Piece Work incentive Ideas

For companies who do business utilizing the piece work method, incentives can be a great way to boost productivity and reward hard, efficient workers.

Incentive ideas can include:

  • Monetary production bonuses
  • Prizes for certain number of piece work completed
  • Names of piece work employees put into drawings for prizes, gifts, or gift certificates
  • Incentive of higher-paying, more complex piecework upon satisfactory demonstration of simpler piece work projects
  • Commission bonuses
  • Differential piecework plans, whereby workers receive different pay based on satisfactory completion rates
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Incentives for Piece Work