Research by the TUC has found that low-paid workers have borne the brunt of the pandemic, with many finding themselves in financial difficulty while the high-paid are more financially comfortable than before.
It found that those earning less than £15,000 per year are almost twice as likely as high-paid workers (those earning more than £50,000) to say they have cut back on spending since the pandemic began (28 per cent compared to 16 per cent).
In addition, high earners are three times more likely than low-paid workers to expect to receive a pay rise in the next 12 months (37 per cent compared to 12 per cent).
The polling also shows that only a third (35 per cent) of low-paid workers say they get full pay when off sick compared to 80 per cent of high-paid workers. They are also four times more likely than high-paid workers to say they cannot afford to take time off work when sick (24 per cent compared to six per cent).
This lack of decent sick pay is compounded by the fact that low-paid workers are more than three times more likely than high-paid workers to say they their job means they can only work outside the home (74 per cent compared to 20 per cent).
This means that low-paid workers face greater risk of contracting the virus at work, and when ill, often face the impossible choice of doing the right thing but losing income or keeping full pay but potentially spreading the virus.
The TUC is therefore calling on the government to:
- Extend the furlough scheme for as long as necessary to protect jobs and livelihoods
- Put in place a permanent short-time working scheme to protect workers at times of economic change
- Cancel the planned £20 cut to Universal Credit.
As part of a post-pandemic reset, it is also urging ministers to:
- Ban zero hours contracts
- Raise the minimum wage immediately to at least £10
- Increase statutory sick pay to a real Living Wage and make it available to all
- Introduce new rights for workers to bargain for better pay and conditions through their unions.
To read the results of the study in full, click here.