Women still more likely than men to earn less than the living wage

Last week the Office of National Statistics released data on the number of people earning less than the living wage in the UK using the 2014 ASHE findings. The living wage is an hourly rate that is independently calculated to reflect the basic cost of living in the UK. The figures showed that almost a fifth of Scotland’s workforce (19 per cent) are paid less than the living wage.

The analysis did not allow for regional gender analysis of the proportion of people earning the living wage, but did provide these figures at a UK level. Women were found to be more likely than men to be paid less than the living wage. The number of men and women receiving less than the living wage has been rising for the last three years, however it has been rising at a slightly faster rate for women. This is shown in the graph below.

Jobs paying less than the living wage were found at a much higher concentration in part-time roles; the proportion of part-time jobs paying less than living wage is three times higher than full-time jobs. This has a disproportionate impact on women, as they make up 76 per cent of people working part-time in Scotland.

Female dominated sectors are also most likely to be paid less than the living wage; in Hospitality and Catering 70 per cent of jobs are paid below the living wage, and in Cleaning the figure is 68 per cent, in Retail 58 per cent and in Care 50 per cent.

Part-time work is undervalued. And that means that many of the women working part-time are working below their skill level. Until part-time work, and other types of flexible working, is available at senior levels, women will continue to be penalised when they have to reduce their hours to balance work with caring responsibilities.