The hospitality and catering sector has the the highest percentage of people who work below the living wage, according to new research by services company, KPMG.
The research revealed that over 80% of catering and kitchen assistants, 85% of waiters and waitresses and 90% of bar staff are all working below the living wage, of £7.65 an hour nationally and £8.80 an hour in London.
5.28 million people in the UK are earning less than the living wage, equating to 22% of all those employed.
The living wage is a voluntary rate of pay that is based on the recognition that the national minimum wage of £6.50 is not sufficient to maintaining a decent quality of life.
There are 456,000 kitchen and catering assistants employed in the UK, paid on average £6.89 and it’s estimated that 370,000 of those employed in the sector are paid below the living wage.
The research, conducted by Markit for KPMG, shows that the proportion of people earning less than £7.65 per hour (or £8.80 in London) is much higher amongst part-time workers. More than 4 in 10 (43 percent) take home less than the Living Wage, compared to 13 percent of full-time employees. Despite accounting for less than one-third of all UK jobs, there are also more part-time roles paying less than the Living Wage (2.98 million) than full-time jobs (2.29 million).
More than forty years after the first Sex Discrimination Act was passed, the research also finds that women are more likely to be paid below the Living Wage than men. This year’s data shows, for example, that 1 in 4 women earn less than the benchmark, compared to 16 percent of men. It’s a figure that has stagnated over the past 12 months. Even where wages have increased, men earning less than the Living Wage have been awarded an average 3 percent increase, compared to 2.7 percent for women.
Mike Kelly, head of living wage at KPMG, said: “With the cost of living still high the squeeze on household finances remains acute, meaning that the reality for many is that they are forced to live hand to mouth. Inflation may be easing, but unless wages rise we will continue to see huge swathes of people caught between the desire to contribute to society and the inability to afford to do so.
“For some time it was easy for businesses to hide behind the argument that increased wages hit their bottom line, but there is ample evidence to suggest the opposite – in the shape of higher retention and higher productivity. It may not be possible for every business, but it is certainly not impossible to explore the feasibility of paying a living wage.”