The federal minimum wage isn’t a living wage by any stretch of the imagination. Workers earning close to minimum wage struggle financially, often relying on government programs to survive.
But the small paycheck isn’t the only struggle low-wage workers face. Low-paid jobs are notorious for treating employees poorly.
Greater Pay, Greater Privilege
Generally, the higher the pay scale you go, the more privileges you enjoy at work. Companies fight to recruit top talent, offering benefits like paid time off and 401K accounts to entice workers.
These workers enjoy greater flexibility as well. Office workers generally enjoy nine-to-five weekday work schedules and can take an afternoon off to see a doctor whenever they please.
People in low-wage jobs don’t have that flexibility. They must fight with their employers for a day off or even to leave a few hours early. Their boss micromanages their schedule and refuses to work with employees to offer work-life balance.
Lax Work Environments
Higher-wage employees also enjoy more flexibility when it comes to tardiness and breaks. No one cares if an office worker comes in two minutes late, but the floor manager at a restaurant stands at the door, staring at his watch, to ensure everyone clocks in precisely on time.
Treated Better Everywhere
People with higher paychecks enjoy better treatment everywhere. Even customers feel comfortable deriding low-wage workers.
Why the Disparity in Treatment?
One man, noticing this pattern, came to Reddit wondering why this happens. Why are low-wage workers constantly monitored and micromanaged while high earners can do whatever they want?
It seems like it should be the opposite, as low-wage workers don’t make enough money to put up with that nonsense, but our culture works the opposite way.
You Are What You Do
Many people genuinely believe that a person’s worth lies in their job. Doctors are inherently good because they make a lot of money and their work helps people, while janitors are automatically bad because they earn low wages and have a “dirty job.”
The pandemic should have taught us that low-wage workers are essential to a properly functioning society, but it didn’t, and we continue to treat them like scum.
Coverage vs Deliverables
One practical reason for the difference in treatment is the work’s very nature. People making minimum wage work in retail, restaurants, and service industry jobs that need someone present on site. The company needs the workers there to function and to assist customers.
Sometimes, the worker sits around with nothing to do until a customer arrives, and at other times, they’re swamped, but if they weren’t there, the business would fail.
Because someone needs to be there, the boss has to micromanage the schedule. They can’t allow everyone to have nights and weekends off, and if they allow someone to call in sick, they might not have coverage.
Higher-paying jobs are more about deliverables than coverage. No one cares when you do the work or when you’re there as long as all deadlines get met. It doesn’t matter if you take an afternoon off, especially if you’re ahead of schedule.
This is why bosses don’t care if their high earners take time off but micromanage the lower-wage employees’ schedules.
Low-wage workers are a dime a dozen. The work is so easy a teenager could do it, so managers don’t care if someone quits; they can always hire a replacement.
High earners demand high salaries because they have unique talents that are hard to find. Managers try to treat these employees right because they know replacing them will take a lot of work.
No one wants to work a low-paying job. People take these positions because they need the money. Managers know they’ve got these workers where it hurts and know they can take advantage of them with impunity because they’re desperate for work.
People with more skills have more options. They can jump ship if they aren’t treated right.
Low-paid jobs have low-paid managers. They’re usually not cut out for leadership positions and can’t get a better job elsewhere.
Their lack of leadership skills leads them to create toxic work environments for their employees, thus contributing to the never-ending cycle.
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