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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: One in 5 UK workers fail to earn Living Wage


A huge one in five UK workers fail to earn a Living Wage, with people in Northern Ireland and Wales particularly badly hit, according to research.

A study undertaken by financial information services company, Markit, on behalf of management consultancy, KPMG, revealed that some 4.82 million employees across the country do not receive the £7.20 per hour (or £8.30 in London) deemed necessary to support a basic standard of living.
The figures compare with the National Minimum Wage rate of £6.19 per hour and were released to flag up Living Wage Week, which takes place from Sunday 4 November until Saturday 10 November.
Marianne Fallon, KPMG’s head of corporate affairs, which has committed to pay its staff a Living Wage, said: “This research really lays bare the extent of the problem of low pay in Britain. Times are difficult for many people but, of course, those on the lowest pay are suffering the most.”
But paying the extra did “not actually cost an employer much more” and any additional costs were offset by “improved motivation and performance” and “lower leaver and absentee” levels anyway, she added.
The research revealed that the low pay problem was particularly marked in Northern Ireland and Wales, where 24% and 23% of workers respectively failed to receive a Living Wage. But London and the North West had the most people to be affected by the issue overall at 570,000 each.
By job type, the highest proportion of workers to be paid below Living Wage standards were bar staff (90%), waiters/waitresses (85%) and kitchen and catering assistants (75%). By sheer number of workers, on the other hand, the worst affected were sales and retail assistants (780,000) and cleaners and domestic workers (440,000).
Things appear unlikely to get better any time some though. Some 41% of those earning less than the Living Wage said that they felt their finances were worse now than only month ago compared to 25% of people earning above that level.
Just under a quarter also felt that their job security had worsened compared to 16% earning more than a Living Wage.

2 Responses

  1. The hourly rate of $8 to $10

    The hourly rate of $8 to $10 per hour is not bad. Lawmakers should not hurry about this legislation. This will take an ample time to decide a raise in minimum wage.  Raising the minimum wage is controversial. It is often asserted that forcing businesses to pay more in minimum wages will mean employers won’t be able to give workers enough hours and fewer jobs will be available to go around.

  2. great post

    Companies who are paying their employees such low wages and experiencing low levels of engagement and commitment need not wonder why their workers are more fully motivated. People react better to appreciation rather than constantly feeling worried about losing their job which isn’t even paying them enough to begin with. 


    Richard Lane, partner at durhamlane, specialist in sales courses and IT development training

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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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