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'Wage', 'Salary' & 'Remuneration': A Genealogical Exploration of Juridical Terms & Their Significance for the Employer's Power to Make Deductions from Wages

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  • Zoe Adams
  • Centre for Business Research

Abstract

The Supreme Court in Hartley v King Edwards VI College (2017) has confirmed that an employee who refuses to work in accordance with his contract forfeits his right to be paid for the duration of the breach. The decision extends to professional employees paid a periodic salary the principle established in Miles v Wakefield MDC (1987). The present article sheds new light on these decisions by situating them within a broader debate concerning the function of the wage and the proper relationship between work and payment. Drawing on insights from economic theory, and engaging in a genealogical analysis of legal concepts, the article shows how this debate has, over time, conditioned the use of concepts such as the 'wage', 'the salary' and 'remuneration' in legislation and case law concerning deductions. It shows that the legal concept of the 'wage' is closely related to the economic idea of the wage as the price of a commodity, while the legal concepts of 'salary' and 'remuneration' are more closely analogous to the economic idea of the wage as the cost of subsistence. The courts' tendency to confuse these concepts, and to analyse the employer's power to deduct as a right to withhold wages for non-performance of the contract, tells us much about the implicit assumptions underpinning cases such as Miles and Hartley, and how they have shaped the path of the law.

Suggested Citation

  • Zoe Adams & Centre for Business Research, 2018. "'Wage', 'Salary' & 'Remuneration': A Genealogical Exploration of Juridical Terms & Their Significance for the Employer's Power to Make Deductions from Wages," Working Papers wp499, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp499
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sidney Webb, 1912. "The Economic Theory of a Legal Minimum Wage," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20, pages 973-973.
    2. Deakin, Simon & Wilkinson, Frank, 2005. "The Law of the Labour Market: Industrialization, Employment, and Legal Evolution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198152811.
    3. S. Deakin, 2001. "The Contract of Employment: A Study in Legal Evolution," Working Papers wp203, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    4. Ricardo, David, 1821. "On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, edition 3, number ricardo1821.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    contract of employment; remuneration; wages; deductions; legal evolution; law and economics;

    JEL classification:

    • B13 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Neoclassical through 1925 (Austrian, Marshallian, Walrasian, Wicksellian)
    • B14 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Socialist; Marxist
    • B15 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • B24 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Socialist; Marxist; Scraffian
    • J40 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - General
    • J48 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Particular Labor Markets; Public Policy
    • J83 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Workers' Rights
    • K3 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law

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