Women struggling more with cost of living crisis

Women are significantly more likely to be paid below the real Living Wage and to be on a zero-hours contract and are less likely to be paid if their shifts are cancelled, says the Living Wage Foundation.

woman with empty purses


Women are more likely to be struggling with the cost-of-living crisis than men, according to new research from the Living Wage Foundation.

The study shows 14% of women who are in work are paid below the real Living Wage, compared to 9% of men.  As a result, jobs held by women account for almost 60% of all jobs paid below the real Living Wage.  Women (34%) are less likely to have regular office hours than men (46%). Women in shift work are also more likely to be on a zero-hours contract, with 13% of women currently working on a zero-hours contract compared to men in shift work (9%).

According to the research, women are also less likely to receive payment when shifts are cancelled: 27% of women said they were paid nothing when shifts were cancelled, compared to 17% of men.

The real Living Wage is currently set at £10.90 in the UK and a higher rate of £11.95 in London. It is voluntarily paid by over 12,000 businesses across the UK including LUSH, Burberry, Aviva, Everton FC and thousands of small-to-medium-sized businesses.

The Living Wage Foundation has also captured the attitudes of low-paid female workers on their pay and cost of living crisis.

  • 75% of women, compared to 65% of men, felt their pay negatively impacted their levels of anxiety
  • 72% of women, compared to 66% of men, said that their pay negatively affected their quality of life

When compared to men, the research found women were more likely to be negatively affected by low pay than their male counterparts:

  • 82% of women, compared to 73% of men, agreed that they have had to make further cutbacks if they do not receive a pay rise in line with inflation over the next 12 months.
  • 80% of low-paid women, compared to 75% of men, agree that the cost-of-living crisis is the most difficult financial period they have ever experienced
  • 80% of women, compared to 71% of men, agree that being on low pay during the cost-of-living crisis has made it impossible to meet basic living costs.

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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