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Two million women earn below the real living wage

Written by: Rebecca Goodman
Over two million women are paid below the real living wage, compared to 1.4 million men, a new report has revealed.

Jobs held by women, including cleaners, care workers, and caterers account for almost 60% of all jobs paid below the real living wage.

The real living wage is a voluntary amount employers can pay of £10.90 per hour (£11.95 in London). In the UK, 12,000 employers have signed up to pay it.

Around a third of women (34%) are less likely to work in a job with regular office hours. Women are also more likely to have zero hours contracts with 13% of them working these hours compared to 9% of men.

When shifts are cancelled, 27% of women said they were paid nothing compared to 17% of men in the same situation, according to the report from The Living Wage Foundation.

The real living wage is higher than the minimum wage, of £9.18 for those aged 21 and older, and the national living wage, of £9.50, for those aged 23 and over. These are both due to rise to £10.18 and £10.42 from April, respectively.

Low pay affects anxiety and quality of life

Earning a low income can have many side effects, other than the finanial implications.

When asked, 75% of women, compared to 65% of men, said their pay negatively impacted their anxiety levels. While 72% of women, compared to 66% of men said their pay negatively affected their quality of life.

The report also showed that women’s lifestyles were more likely to be negatively affected by low pay than men.

Of those asked, 82% of women, compared to 73% of men, said they would have to make further cut backs if they did not receive a pay rise in line with inflation in the next year.

While 80% of women, compared to 75% of men on low incomes, said the cost-of-living crisis was the most difficult financial period they have ever experienced.

The news comes as it was revealed this week that the gap between women’s and men’s pension contributions for a 35-39-year-old has risen to 21%. It was recorded as 18% last year.

Women ‘more likely to be trapped in low-paying jobs’

Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “Our research demonstrates the reality that millions of women in the UK – often cleaners, catering staff and care workers – are more likely to be trapped in low-paying, insecure and precarious jobs.

“This year’s International Women’s Day 2023 is focused on equity – the sticky floor of low pay and precarious work is holding women back, true equity needs to start with a real Living Wage.

“It has been heartening to see record levels of employers signing up the real Living Wage and Living Hours in this past year. We’re encouraging all businesses who can to join our network of 12,000 Living Wage employers.”


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