500 signatures reached
To: Kevin Hollinrake MP for Thirsk & Malton
Autism and Work
Press for a change to National Minimum Wage law
Why is this important?
We the undersigned are parents of young and middle aged adults with mental disabilities who, with other signatories, are concerned and horrified to find that UK law actively makes it difficult for such people to obtain employment. Employment is not only psychologically beneficial for such people but also is likely to reduce the amount of financial support they require from the State.
The problem is that it is a criminal offence for an employer to pay such people less than the National Minimum Wage.
There is an exception for piece workers but not for ordinary "time workers". We believe there should also be an exception for ordinary "time workers" with mental disabilities. The absence of an exception can make it commercially impossible for an employer to employ someone with mental disabilities.
The main opposition to such an exception (coming, we understand, from major charities such as Mencap and Scope) generally rests on the ideological basis that mentally disabled people are "worth" just as much as others. This objection deliberately confuses human worth with financial worth. It fails to take into account the needs of some of those who would have psychological and social benefit from being employees.
Clearly an exception to normal NMW rules for the mentally disabled would have to be carefully worded to avoid unintended consequences such as the possibility of abuse by unscrupulous employers.
Research suggests that the UK is the only country in the world, other than Romania, to have a national minimum wage without some form of special provision for the benefit of people with mental disabilities. We urge the UK government to bring the UK into line with other countries and to include some form of therapeutic exemption in the forthcoming review of National Minimum Wage law.