Cashless pay, deductions from wages, and the repeal of the Truck Acts in Great Britain, 1945-1986

This article examines the public debate between 1945 and 1986 in Great Britain over repealing the Truck Acts. Advocates of repeal hoped that it might encourage workers to accept wage payment by cheque or electronic transfer, which most manual workers opposed. This article will evaluate the arguments that the Truck Acts, which protected employees’ right to be paid in the current coin of the realm and defended them against unfair deductions from wages, had become ‘obsolete’ and hindered contractual arrangements that could be beneficial. The 1986 Wages Act, which repealed all of the Truck Acts and the 1960 Payment of Wages Act, passed over the strong objections of the TUC and a number of organizations that provided legal advice to the poor. The 1986 Act was introduced to allow employers to impose convenient cashless pay. Like much of the legislation under the Thatcher government, this Act was sold as the repeal of outdated and burdensome regulations, which would allow businesses to lower costs and become more competitive. However, I will argue that the repeal of the Truck Acts removed some very real protections for workers, and left employees more exposed to unfair deductions from wages than before.

  • Date: 17/08/2019
  • Sector: Any
  • Topics: Digital technology, Inclusive finance, Workers' rights
  • Regions: Europe and Central Asia
  • Resource type: Publications
  • Institutions: Labor History