piecework, work for which the laborer is paid on the basis of the amount of work done. The system is best adapted to standardized operations in which quantity is preferred to quality. Its advocates maintain that it pays the worker according to his ability. Its opponents argue that it tends to pay the best worker what he would receive on a time basis, while other workers receive less than they would by the hour and that it forces the pace of work. In the United States the 1949 amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act in effect required that pieceworkers be paid at least the minimum wage.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.