Lowest paid received less than minimum wage on furlough

A new report from the Office for National Statistics shows the lowest paid have been most affected by furlough and employers who have not topped up furlough pay.

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The lowest paid workers are more likely to have been furloughed during the Covid pandemic and many of them saw their earnings fall to below the National Minimum Wage level because their employers did not top up their furlough pay, according to an Office for National Statistics survey.

The report relates to the early period of furlough, where workers were paid 80% of their normal pay, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The Government and employers were permitted to top up pay to normal levels, but they did not have to legally. The ONS says furloughed jobs receiving no top-up were more prevalent in the bottom 10% of the pay distribution, with 2,043,000 (7.2%) employee jobs being paid below the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage in April.

It adds that the jobs for which hourly pay has clearly been most impacted in 2020 are those at the bottom of the pay distribution: hourly pay among the bottom 5th and 10th percentile of part-time jobs fell by 16.1% and 8.1% respectively compared with 2019. No other percentiles experienced a fall in pay rates.

The lowest earning part-time employees are more likely to be younger workers in the food and beverage, arts, entertainment and recreation industries, says the report. The report also says that there are twice as many women as men in the bottom 10% of earners.

 



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