Low Pay Britain 2018

Document type
D'Arcy, Conor
Resolution Foundation
Date of publication
18 May 2018
Employment, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion, Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

Download (2.4MB )

This report asks how the low pay landscape is evolving in light of The National Living Wage.

It identifies three key challenges surrounding the issue of low pay:

  • Progression: While ‘shop floor to top floor’ stories are often highlighted for sales assistants in retail, the report finds that just 4 per cent of sales assistants had moved on and up to become supervisors or managers in the same sector five years later. Only one in ten managers had been sales assistants five years earlier.
  • Power: When a small number of firms dominate in a sector or area, this can lead to lower wages or worse terms and conditions as employees have little choice over who to work for. This problem is most acute for low paid workers in the UK. Though comprising a tiny proportion of all firms, companies with 5,000 or more workers employ 28 per cent of all low-paid people. Nearly one in six (16 per cent) low-paid employees work for just 20 firms, a much higher proportion than for high-paid employees (9 per cent).
  • Gender pay gap: 22 per cent of women are low-paid, compared to 14 per cent of men. Women are less likely to progress out of low pay, are more likely to switch into other low-paying jobs when they do move, and are more concentrated in a handful of large firms than low-paid men.

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