Part-timers, single parents, older workers, those in smaller organisations and those with disabilities are more likely to get stuck in low paid work and government and employers could do more to address this, according to a report by the Resolution Foundation think tank.
It says current support and funding could be better targeted at these groups to understand the obstacles preventing them from progressing and to assist them in their careers.
The report shows one in five employees is low paid and argues that employers and government alike should review their policies and approaches to pay progression to ensure that people are not trapped on low pay.
It adds that small wage increases for perceived significant increases in responsibility discourage many from moving off the first rung. It states: “The limited pay increases received for moving from an entry-level position to a supervisory role were often as little as 30p or 40p extra an hour. When weighed against the additional stress which comes with the role and the hassle of rearranging their work-life balance, for many people progression may not appeal.”
The report says that staying in employment is the most important factor for pay progression. Despite this, the largest group among those who do not progress are regularly in work and may require different support to those who have more difficulty finding steady employment.
The report adds that the proportion of employees who escape low paid jobs varies widely across sectors. It calls for further research into low pay in different sectors.
It adds that many businesses do have progression policies, but says it is important to ensure that the policies are working effectively, particularly for staff members who may not be able to commit to the complete flexibility which some employers appear to require in order to progress. It also calls on the government to take action and says one area in which government and employers intersect will be the in-work conditionality element of Universal Credit, which it says could be a useful mechanism through which pay progression could be furthered if managed well.
The Resolution Foundation will publish a low pay manifesto in early 2015 setting out a variety of policies aimed at those on low pay.