Union body claims many key workers are underpaid

1 April 2021

Around a third (33%) of key workers earn less than £10 an hour according to new analysis by the TUC. As new minimum and living wage rates come into force, it has urged the Government to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour.

Three-quarters of retail workers, around one million retail assistants, cashiers and shelf fillers, fall below the £10 an hour pay rate, as do 62% of the nation’s 440,000 carers and 69% of the 340,000 teaching and education support assistants.

The TUC argues that all key workers deserve a “decent” pay rise as they have been expected to continue to work throughout lockdown and local restrictions during the height of the pandemic.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Our shop assistants, carers and school support staff have worked around the clock to keep the country going through the pandemic — often at great personal risk to their health. But those expecting a decent pay increase tomorrow have been let down by the Government’s decision to row back on the full rise they were promised.”

From 1 April 2021, the National Living Wage (NLW) for those aged 23 and over is set at £8.91 (a 2.2% increase), with the rate rising to £8.36 for those aged 21 and 22 and to £6.56 for those aged 18 to 20. Apprentices will see a 3.6% increase to £4.30 while 16- and 17-year-olds will now be paid £4.62 per hour.

However, the Government has made clear that the new rates will not apply to those workers who are on furlough as they will continue to get 80% of their usual income, based on pre-pandemic rates for the minimum wage. They will move on to the new rates once they return to work.