Britain’s low-paid workers are far more likely to lose their jobs during the pandemic than those who are higher-paid, according to a new study.
Research by the UK-based Institute for Employment Studies found that those on lower pay are significantly disadvantaged by Covid-19’s economic impact, with one in 20 having lost their job during each quarter since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020.
Quarter of a million workers lost jobs
This equates to a quarter of a million people becoming unemployed, who would otherwise have been in work if the pandemic were not a factor.
The study defined low pay as less than £10.85 (AUD19.24) an hour in London, or £9.50 (AUD16.84) an hour in the rest of Britain. These include people working in hospitality and food services, sectors which have suffered significant damage due to Covid-19-related restrictions.
In contrast, only one in 50 workers who are classified as ‘higher-paid’ lost their jobs in each quarter. These include people working in technology, finance and the public sector.
Four million are impacted in some way
According to the Institute for Employment Studies, the current lockdown is likely to result in about two-thirds of low-paid workers, which equates to around 4-million people, either being away from work, on furlough, or working fewer hours than before.
The researchers estimate that this is twice the rate of work disruption experienced by those who are classified as being more highly paid.
This situation, say the researchers, is dramatically exacerbating inequalities in the world of work in the UK.
Shows unequal nature of the pandemic
“This [report] shows the unequal nature of the pandemic,” Tony Wilson, the institute’s director, said.
“With unemployment set to rise sharply this year, we are likely still in the foothills of the employment crisis, but it has already taken a significant toll on low-paid workers.
We can take action now and at the budget to address this. Looking further ahead, we need to plan for the recovery and ensure that we put full employment and decent work at the heart of it.”