A new report highlights the position of low paid workers, many of them carers, and calls for a new post-pandemic settlement to raise standards and lower insecurity.
Over half of the care workers that are clapped every Thursday are paid less than the real Living Wage and up to 160,000 aren’t even paid the legal minimum wage, according to a new report which calls for a new post-pandemic settlement for low-paid workers.
The report from the Resolution Foundation notes that the UK’s 4.2 million lowest earners are three times as likely to have lost their job or been furloughed as high earners and more than twice as likely to do jobs exposing them to health risks.
In addition to pay inadequacy, it notes that 1.2 million workers report experiencing last-minute changes to their work shifts, three-quarters of whom say that these changes have meant a last-minute loss of pay. Two-in-five workers in sales and customer services roles and over one-in-three workers in cleaning, caring and other service occupations feel anxious as a result of this uncertainty.
It also notes that, over the last two decades, the number of the lowest paid workers being paid weekly has more than halved from 44 per cent to just 17 per cent, equivalent to moving 744,000 workers from being paid weekly to monthly and causing financial difficulties for many.
The Foundation says a new post-pandemic settlement should give workers more control over the hours they work with a right to a contract that reflects the actual hours they work and a right to compensation where shifts are cancelled without reasonable notice. It also calls for a right to choose how regularly you are paid in large firms and a cut in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal to one year. And it recommends the creation of a ‘properly resourced’ Single Enforcement Body, with powers to pro-actively protect workers and new wage boards made up of employers, employee and independent representatives in those industries where standards need to be raised, starting in social care.
Hannah Slaughter, an economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Britain’s low-paid workers have been at the heart of the current economic crisis. They are the most likely to have lost their jobs, or to have put their own health at risk by working on the frontline.
“The appreciation now being expressed for these workers is in stark contrast to the fact that for too long we have offered them a world of work based on insecurity and exploitation, not dignity and respect.
“Britain’s post-pandemic economy will look different from the one before coronavirus hit. For low earners that should be because the government has put in place a new settlement, based on more respect, higher pay, and better conditions at work.
“New wage boards should drive up standards in problem industries, while workers need to be given more control of the hours they work and when they are paid. Rights must not only be strengthened but enforced. These are balanced, moderate proposals, that taken together would amount to a new settlement for low-paid workers.”