§ Mr. Heath
I beg to move, in page 4, line 5, at the end to insert:and no notice excluding him from the operation of this section is in force at that time".It might be convenient if this Amendment, and the following Amendment, to page 4, line 31, to insert a new subsection (4), were considered together, Mr. Speaker.
§ Mr. Speaker
Strictly, the right hon. Gentleman should move the first Amendment and discuss the other one with it.
§ Mr. Heath
During Second Reading, the question was raised about the operation of Clause 4, which was intended to deal with emergencies—the employee who was taken ill, or, for some other reason, was not able to be at his usual place of payment. This gave the employer the right to pay him by these two methods—money order, or postal order. During the debate in Committee, apprehensions were expressed by some Members about this happening to workmen, who, for personal reasons, did not want their wages sent in this way to their homes. I think that hon. Members appreciated the importance of these personal reasons and I undertook to see whether we could find a way of modifying the Clause.
It was also agreed by hon. Members that only a comparatively small number of people would not want this emergency procedure to be used. Therefore, we came to the conclusion that perhaps it could be so arranged that it could be used by the employer, except in those circumstances where the workman had asked him not to use it. We thought that arrangement preferable, rather than to put it positively that a workman who wanted this to be used should apply to his employer, because it might happen only infrequently in a man's working lifetime and mean a great deal of clerical work to cover it. We should, I think, use the procedure whereby the employer would be given the right to pay in this 1352 way in the two cases of sickness or failure to appear at the usual place of payment, unless the employee had asked him not to do so.
The Amendment I have moved adds to the Clause the provision that he may do it, provided thatno notice excluding him from the operation of this section is in force at that time.The second Amendment which we are discussing means that it should remain in force unless the employee cancels it, again by writing to his employer.
I hope that this will meet the point raised by hon. Gentlemen opposite and will remove those apprehensions which, I think, many hon. Members had in Committee about the use of this Clause.
§ Mr. Prentice
We are very glad that the Amendment has been moved, because we attach very great importance to the point involved. We were prepared to argue strenuously again on this point and, if necessary, to vote on it if the Government had not substantially met the point which we made in Committee.
As the Clause was drafted originally, it was different from the rest of the Bill. The rest of the Bill gave the employed person the option; he had the right to choose a different way of receiving his wages if he preferred it in that way. But under Clause 4 as originally drafted, in cases where the employee was away sick or was absent from his normal pay station because of his work, the employer could send the wages by money or postal order without prior consent.
It seemed to my hon. Friends and myself that that might in some cases be an invasion of privacy. There might be personal reasons why a man would not want his full wages, with an accompanying statement, to go home and be seen by people there. These reasons might be good or bad. but they were personal reasons and we thought that we had no right to force it on people in this way.
The Amendment moved by the right hon. Gentleman does not go quite as far as our Amendment in Committee, because our Amendment sought a form of words whereby this would not be done at all unless the employee had made a positive request. We have had to consider whether the Amendment meets our point. We have reached the conclusion that we should be satisfied with the new 1353 formula, for the reason the Minister gave. These are fairly exceptional cases, and in these circumstances the majority of people will want their wages sent home. Particularly if they are away sick they will want their wages sent home rather than have any delay.
Therefore, it is better simply to do it in this way, and to reserve for the small number of people who will not want that to happen the right to opt accordingly and to make a statement to their employer that they do not want it. For those reasons, we welcome the Amendment.
§ Mrs. Freda Corbet (Peckham)
I am not quite sure what safeguard an employer has when a person is away from his place of employment for either of these two reasons and the employer is under contract to pay the wages. If he cannot send the wages to the man's home address, and if no provision is made whereby the employee can authorise someone to collect his wages for him, is there any means by which the employer can effect an agreement with the employed person that he may hold his wages until such time as arrangements are made for them to be collected?
§ Mrs. Corbet
If the employer should want to ask an employee to make such an arrangement, and the employee does not agree, what does the employer do about paying the man the money? Is it legal for him to keep the money if the employee does not agree that it shall be sent?
§ Mr. Heath indicated assent.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendment made: In page 4, line 31, at end insert:
(4) If an employed person, by notice in writing given to his employer, declares that he does not wish to have any of his wages paid to him by postal order or money order, that notice—