The Gender Pay Gap Persists: Over 2 Million Women in the UK Earn Below the Real Living Wage

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The gender pay gap continues to become a relevant topic. With rising inflation rates, the cost-of-living crisis continues to complicate the situation. Recent research by the Living Wage Foundation has found that the cost-of-living crisis has affected women more than men.

Through their research, they found that over 2 million or 14% of working women are paid below the real Living Wage which is higher than the number for working men which is 9% or 1.4 million.

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As a reference, considering the current cost of living, the national living wage is £10.90 and the London living wage is £11.95. This means that 2 million women across the country are earning below that, amidst rising costs and inflation.

Findings of the Research

The research that was done using data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) report on Annual Survey for Hours and Earnings (ASHE) was aimed to gain insights on employee pay across the UK, including between groups of people and trends.

There are more than 500,000 working women who are paid under the real living wage compared to working men. This means that 60% of jobs that are paid under the real living wage are held by women.

Further, they also found women tend to have fewer regular working hours compared to men, with the numbers being 34% for women and 46% for men. Shift work differences are also seen between men and women, with 13% of women admitting to being on zero-hour contracts compared to men at only 9%. When shifts are cancelled, 27% of women say they do not get financial compensation while only 17% of men experience this.

Living on low pay has also been shown to be affecting the lives of women more than men. When asked about if low pay impacted anxiety levels, 75% of women agreed while only 65% of men felt the same. Similar numbers are found for the effect of low pay on quality of life, which is 72% of women and 66% of men.

It was also mentioned that women are more likely to make further cutbacks to survive through rising costs. Many of them admit that the cost-of-living crisis has made it tough to fulfil basic needs.

READ: UK Workers Unpaid: TUC Analysis Reveals £26 Billion Worth of Uncompensated Overtime in the Last Year

Paying the Real Living Wage

Annually, the Living Wage Foundation releases updates on the real living wage. As inflation continues to hike, the most recent numbers are established to reflect that. This wage is standardised to ensure employees can meet daily costs for their needs to live.

Currently, there are over 12,000 UK businesses that have voluntarily paid the real living wage. The campaign to promote the living wage has resulted in over 450,000 employees across the UK having pay raises. Employers paying a real living wage include Google, Nationwide, Burberry and Aviva. Speaking on the topic Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation has expressed that their research illustrates what millions of working women in the UK face. These women are often employed in low-paying jobs such as care workers, cleaners and catering staff. The Living Wage Foundation believes that true equity must begin with paying employees a real living wage.


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