One in four UK workers covered by national living wage underpaid

Women more likely to be hit by underpayments than men, Low Pay Commission figures reveal

Almost one in four British workers on the government’s national living wage are paid less than they should be, according to official figures, with more women than men hit by underpayments.

The figures revealed by the government’s Low Pay Commission showed that 369,000 workers – representing about 23% of all of those over the age of 25 who are covered by the national living wage – were paid less than that amount this year.

In a worrying signal for households on the lowest incomes, the snapshot of the labour market showed that the number of people affected by underpayment rose from about 339,000 a year ago.

The Low Pay Commission said significant increases in underpayments were found for people working in childcare, where two-fifths of workers who should have got the national living wage received less.

Women were more likely than men to be underpaid the living wage they should have received, while the worst-offending sectors of the economy were in retail, hospitality and cleaning and maintenance.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, said that it was “deplorable” to see an increase in the number of workers not getting the wages to which they were entitled.

“This should be a red line for any government, but the Tories are failing to stop unscrupulous employers denying workers their rightful pay. This is unfair to workers but also unfair to those employers who do play by the rules,” she said.