One-third of key workers earn £10 an hour or less, study finds

Hourly wages of key workers are 8 per cent lower on average than other workers, with food and social care employees the lowest paid, IFS report says

Chiara Giordano
Thursday 23 April 2020 07:30 BST
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One-third of key workers earn £10 an hour or less, with food and social care employees paid the lowest paid, according to a new study.

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggests that the hourly wages of key workers are 8 per cent lower on average than other workers.

The median hourly wage for key workers last year was £12.26 in today’s prices, compared with the median £13.26 per hour in a non-key occupation, the report found.

In addition, the £10 an hour or less earned by a third of key workers is below the long-term target for the national living wage, the IFS said.

The report found that key workers are similar to the rest of the workforce in terms of age, education, and where they were born, but they are more likely to be female and lower paid.

It also stated that food and social care sectors stand out for the low wages of employees as well as their low levels of qualifications.

Christine Farquharson, a senior research economist at the IFS, said: “Key workers are essential to the UK’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and they have certainly earned our gratitude.

“While some key worker sectors have very low pay – those in the food sector earn just £8.59 per hour on average – other key workers earn much more.

“Any policy plans to change key workers’ working conditions after the pandemic has passed will need to take these differences into account.”

Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, added: “There are millions of key workers earning less than the real living wage of £9.30 in the UK and £10.75 in London.

“As we emerge from this crisis, we have the opportunity to reassess how we value these critical roles – the best way to thank key workers is by paying at least a real living wage.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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