Home > Making Money > What is Piece Work?

What is Piece Work?

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 26 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Piece Work Telecommuting Freelance

Traditionally, 'working from home' has often been associated with menial tasks such as envelope stuffing or addressing. You need only look through your local paper to see countless classified ads offering home-based income for doing apparently very easy work.


So-called 'piece work' is when workers are paid per unit that they produce. This form of employment began before the Industrial Revolution, when the automation of jobs such as sewing and the assembly of items were not yet widespread. Payment of this kind is actually a form of performance related pay; the faster you work, the better you are recompensed.

In reality, there is very little 'piece work' of this kind to be had today. It is simply uneconomical to employ 100 people to stuff 100,000 envelopes, when it is possible to buy machinery that will do the same job at a rate of 120,000 per hour. Adverts seeking homeworkers to carry out tasks like this should, therefore, normally be avoided.

There are still, however, some opportunities to be found. There are several trade directories which list mailing houses across the country. These organisations still employ individuals to perform tasks such as envelope stuffing or addressing, but you should remember that you probably won't be able to do this from home. Furthermore, as the work is popular, there is likely to be a waiting list.


Perhaps the modern-day equivalent of piece work is telecommuting. This new phenomenon is similar to traditional employment, in that it generally requires individuals to sign a permanent contract with an employer. However, telecommuting means that you do not carry out your work from an office; rather, you use the internet and telephone to work from home. This form of work is becoming increasingly popular as more and more people begin to act on the feeling that they should not have to commute to the office every day. Just as many people, however, are put off by the idea that you could feel isolated, or fail to motivate yourself to work. While this would certainly be the case in some instances, the growing popularity of telecommuting is testament to the fact that it is perfectly possible to overcome these disadvantages.

If you are keen on working from home, another possibility is to capitalise on a skill or talent that you have. There is a wealth of information (and, indeed, work) to be found on the internet. Indeed, you may consider combining your work with the internet itself; jobs such as home-based technical support are growing in popularity for those who have good knowledge of computers.

As with any job in which you have no face-to-face contact with your employer, you should always be on the look-out in order to ensure that you avoid scams. You may find it useful to read the article on this topic elsewhere in this section.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Howie
    Re: A Guide to Unemployment Benefits
    On 15 July I have to go to court. I may be looking at a driving ban. If I am (hopefully I won't be) will I be allowed to…
    10 June 2019
  • Crazydiamond
    Re: What is SERPS and What Was 'Contracting Out' ?
    Hi i took the serps option in 1988, I am now 58 but unable to trace this pension, can anyone help me in…
    29 May 2019
  • Lolly
    Re: A Guide to Unemployment Benefits
    Hi i am currently working in the care sector my age is 61 i have been trying to get varicose viens removed for 7 years plus…
    16 May 2019
  • Dave
    Re: Taxation for the Self-Employed
    I am PAYE and Self Employed through CIS. I earned £41k in PAYE and a mere £3500 self employed, (before tax) I have a…
    24 April 2019
  • Stanharris
    Re: Renegotiating Your Loans
    Thanks for sharing a valuable information. It is really informative and helpful. the information that you have shared is really useful.…
    4 April 2019
  • Oggy
    Re: Taxation for the Self-Employed
    I’m a construction worker on cis can I claim back my 20% tax back on my first 12k tax is deducted before I’m paid although I’m…
    1 April 2019
  • Caz
    Re: How Much Tax do I Have to Pay?
    Iv just started working for an agency I will be played weekly they not taken out tax and national insurance I have to have my…
    23 March 2019
  • SylviaBlood
    Re: A Guide to Unemployment Benefits
    an you help me pls I had operation on my kidney followed by chest infection I then went profound deaf had cochlear implant…
    19 February 2019
  • sylv
    Re: A Guide to Unemployment Benefits
    i returnee red to work after 2operations I was on ESA support group con based. I went to work I had my hours cut but unable…
    19 February 2019
  • Jax
    Re: How Much Tax do I Have to Pay?
    I earned £924 for working 99 hours last month yet between tax and national insurance Im just bringing home £690 is this right?
    24 January 2019