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Restaurant staff and bricklayers most likely to have suffered pay cut during pandemic

LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·2-min read
A bricklayer working for Taylor Wimpey builds a wall on an estate in Aylesbury, Britain February 7, 2017.  REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
Bricklayers and masons saw a fall in pay of 8%, with 64% estimated to be furloughed, while air travel assistants also a drop of 8% with 33% furloughed. Photo: Reuters/Eddie Keogh

Restaurant workers, bricklayers, IT engineers and air cabin crew are amongst the professions worst hit by pay cuts since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, new research has revealed.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) these jobs are classed as “high vulnerability,” meaning that they are non-key worker positions unlikely to be done from home.

Almost a third (32.4%) of all UK employees work in high vulnerability jobs, and may have been more likely to suffer a reduction in working hours or wages during the health crisis, the ONS said.

These represented 88% of low paid jobs (below a £9.12 an hour pay threshold), and more than half of furloughed roles in April 2020.

"Jobs most vulnerable to reduced hours or pay during the coronavirus pandemic had lower average wages compared with other occupations," the ONS said.

"This may have affected the ability of employees in these jobs to manage financially during lockdown."

More than two-fifths (41.4%) of high vulnerability jobs have seen the average wage fall during the pandemic. The hospitality sector saw some of the largest drops in pay (10%) due to high levels of furlough – 77% of waiters and waitresses were on the government’s scheme in April last year.

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Bricklayers and masons saw a fall in pay of 8%, with 64% estimated to be furloughed, while air travel assistants also a drop of 8% with 33% furloughed.

IT engineers recorded a fall of 7%, with 26% of people furloughed.

Restaurant managers, sheet metal workers, pest control officers, and carpenters and joiners were also likely to have seen a decline in wages since the start of the crisis.

The data also revealed that men were more likely to work in jobs in the high vulnerability category than women. Two thirds (66.3%) of employees in this group are male.

However, 72.3% of employees in high vulnerability occupations with median hourly wages below the low wage threshold are women.

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In contrast, just over a quarter (27.9%) of UK employees work in “low-vulnerability” roles, meaning they are key workers or likely to be able to work from home.

Just 8% of employees in low vulnerability jobs, such as nurses, healthcare specialists, accountants and teachers, were furloughed in April.

A slightly smaller proportion (31.7%) of low vulnerability jobs saw pay decreases with medium and high vulnerability jobs.

The research showed that women make up more than half of employees in the medium and low vulnerability groups (55.1% and 61.7% respectively).

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