05 March 2021

Waiters, bricklayers and air cabin crew ‘worst hit by pay cuts’ during pandemic

05 March 2021

Restaurant staff, IT engineers, bricklayers and air travel assistants are among the workers most likely to have had their pay cut since the Covid-19 pandemic began, analysis suggests.

These professions have been classed as “high vulnerability jobs” by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), meaning they are non-key worker roles very unlikely to be done from home.

Just under a third (32.4%) of employees in the UK fall into the high vulnerability group, and may have been more likely to see a reduction in working hours or wages during the pandemic.

More than half of employees (53%) who were furloughed last April worked in high vulnerability jobs, the ONS said.

Occupations in this group made up 88% of jobs with a median hourly wage below £9.12 – the threshold for low pay.

Examples of high vulnerability professions that had a fall in wages include waiters and waitresses, who saw a drop of 10% in median hourly pay from April 2019 to April 2020, and 77% were also likely to have been furloughed.

Bricklayers and masons saw a fall of 8% (64% of whom were estimated to be furloughed), air travel assistants had a drop of 8% (33% furloughed), and IT engineers recorded a fall of 7% (26% furloughed).

Other big drops in pay are likely to have hit restaurant managers (down 10%, 73% furloughed); sheet metal workers (down 10%, 54% furloughed); pest control officers (down 8%, 35% furloughed); and carpenters and joiners (down 6%, 62% furloughed).

More than two-fifths (41.4%) of jobs in the high vulnerability group saw pay reductions in the last year.

Furlough affected changes in pay, the ONS said, with over a third (36.7%) of employees in high vulnerability jobs furloughed in April.

More than a quarter (27.9%) of UK employees work in what the ONS classed as low vulnerability jobs, meaning they are likely to be able to work from home, or are considered a key worker.

Most professional occupations, which include healthcare specialists, teachers and accountants, fall into the low vulnerability category.

Just under a third (31.7%) of jobs in this group saw pay decreases in the past year, while only 8.1% were estimated to be furloughed in April.

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