The cost-of-living crisis has hit women harder than men, according to new research from the Living Wage Foundation.
The foundation, which calculates and recommends the ‘real’ Living Wage, analysed figures from the Office for National Statistics and found that more than 2 million women, or 14% of those in work, are paid below the Living Wage. Nine percent of men receive less than this baseline – currently set at £10.90 in the UK and £11.95 in London.
Women are also more likely to be on a zero-hours contract than men, it found, with 13% of women on these arrangements and 9% of men. Similarly, 27% of women said they were not paid when a shift was cancelled, compared to 17% of men.
The Living Wage Foundation estimates that almost 60% of jobs paid below the real Living Wage are held by women. Female workers were also less likely to have regular office hours than male (34% versus 46%).
The organisation asked workers about their experiences of rising inflation and how they felt about their pay levels.
Three quarters of women, compared with 65% of men, felt their pay had a negative impact on their anxiety levels, and 72% said it affected their quality of life.
HR salaries struggle to keep up with inflation
Double-digit inflation persists
Closing the gender pay gap in a cost-of-living crisis (webinar)
Eight in 10 women who earn below the Living Wage felt the current period was the most difficult they had ever experienced financially, compared to 75% of men. The same proportion said the crisis had made it impossible to meet basic living costs, versus 71% of men.
Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said the research showed the stark reality for millions of women in the UK, “often cleaners, catering staff and care workers”, who are trapped in low-paid and insecure 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,” she added.
The foundation has around 12,000 employers, spanning more than 450,000 workers, currently signed up to pay the voluntary rate.
Jenny Baskerville, head of inclusion, diversity and equity at KPMG UK and chair of the foundation’s advisory council, said the research showed “there is still more to be done” on pay.
“Over 12,000 businesses across the UK are paying the real Living Wage, and it’s never been more vital for others to follow in their footsteps given the economic climate,” she said.
“Paying a real Living Wage isn’t just the right thing to do, but businesses can also benefit from improved recruitment and retention, improved staff morale, rising service standards, as well as increased productivity.
“When we collectively work to ensure that good work is at the heart of the labour market, we will all benefit from a stronger, more compassionate and equal society.”
Last year, the foundation reported that more than over half of low-paid workers have been forced to visit food banks during the current economic crisis.
Reward, compensation and benefits opportunities
Browse all comp and benefits jobs