23 May 2018

According to the latest annual “Low Pay Britain” report from the Resolution Foundation, the answer is very probably not — just 4% of sales assistants had moved up to become supervisors or managers in the same sector within five years.

Only one in 10 managers had been sales assistants five years earlier while, overall, just one in six low-paid employees permanently escaped low pay over the course of the last decade (2006 to 2016).

Furthermore, one in six employees across Britain (4.9 million in total) remain in low-paid jobs, including the majority of workers in hotels and restaurants (58%), and almost one in four people in Nottingham (24%) and Sheffield (23%).

On a more positive note, the report (https://bit.ly/2KKdPOM) shows that — thanks largely to the National Living Wage (NLW) — the share of employees in low pay fell to 18% in the year to April 2017, the lowest proportion since 1982.

The number of low-paid employees also fell below five million for the first time in 15 years.

The Foundation welcomes this strong progress on boosting the lowest paid workers’ wages but points out that, even in 2020, over four million workers are still expected to be low paid.

The gender gap is also obvious in this debate: 22% of women are low paid, compared to 14% of men, and women are both less likely to progress out of low pay and more likely to switch into other low-paying jobs when they do move.

The think tank’s Senior Policy Analyst, Conor D’Arcy, concluded: “Workers today too often find themselves stuck on the shop floor with no chance to move up the ladder. Many are employed by one of a handful of big hiring, but low paying, firms in an industry or local area with few other options available.”