Britain’s minimum pay rates are now among the best in the world, a new report has revealed.
The Resolution Foundation’s research, entitled Low Pay Britain 2023, highlighted that while salary standards are high, nationally wider standards are inadequate compared to other countries across the globe.
The 35th report of The Economy 2030 Inquiry, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, examined the improvements made in terms of wages and the lack of progress in other areas that are important to those on low incomes. This included insufficient sick pay and unpredictable hours, as well as not enough autonomy or flexibility at work for employees.
Currently those earning the minimum wage receive only a tenth of their normal pay if they take a week of sick leave. The think tank therefore believes Britain should focus on raising overall standards as part of a “good work” strategy.
Nye Cominetti, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “We should celebrate the progress that Britain has made on tackling low pay thanks to the national living wage (NLW), while recognising that we have a long way to go on job quality.
“Too many low earners suffer from poor quality work, be it from inadequate sick pay or unacceptable uncertainty about when they will be expected to work.
“Too often work means very different things to lower and higher earners. Not enough of the former enjoy the basics of dignity, respect and security that the latter take for granted.
“That’s why we need a new ‘good work agenda’ that goes beyond a higher minimum wage so that workers see improvements to the quality of their jobs as well as the size of their pay packets.”
The figures showed the NLW had led to the halving of low pay levels, with 9% of workers on low pay in 2022 compared to 20.7% in 2015. The ongoing rate rises could mean that Britain gets rid of low pay completely by 2025.
However, it remains behind many other global players in terms of wider minimum working standards in offering Statutory Sick Pay of only £109.40 a week.
Commenting on lack of adequate sick pay, TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “Nobody should be plunged into financial hardship if they become sick, but Britain has one of the most miserly sick pay rates in Europe.
“This is disproportionately punishing low-paid workers and leaving them without a safety net.
“We must fix our broken sick pay system by making statutory sick pay available from day one and raising it to the level of the real living wage.”
The Foundation proposes the renewed good work agenda focuses on a higher wage floor, adequate sick pay and more certainty and control for employees, including new rights to a contract that reflects usual working, a minimum of two weeks’ notice of shifts, and compensation for any last-minute changes.