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Two thirds of the British workforce feel underpaid

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Around two thirds (65%) of the British workforce believe that they are not paid enough for the work they do, according to new research from Unum, the UK’s leading disability insurer.  By contrast, only two per cent of people think that they are overpaid by their employer. On average, British workers feel that they are underpaid by £5,250 per year.  However, more than a million people believe they should be earning between £10,001 and £20,000 more a year and up to 129,000 workers (1%) think that they are underpaid by more than £30,000 a year.

On a gender basis, while the same proportion of women and men stated that they feel underpaid – 65% – on average women want less of an increase, believing that they should be paid £4495 more per year; compared to £5706 extra that men believe they should receive.

According to the research, 35 to 44 year olds feel the most underpaid; on average by £5,882 per year. Workers seem to be happiest with their wage level once they are over 65, perhaps due to the fact that, for many people of this age, if they felt underpaid they would likely choose to retire rather than continue working.  Despite this, 52% of these workers still feel that they are not being paid enough. 

On a regional basis, while the disparities are not particularly large, the research showed that workers in the North of England, Wales and the South West are most likely to consider themselves underpaid (67% of people), while Scotland and the South East have the lowest proportions of people who feel that they are not paid enough at 63%.

Regional  Proportion of people who feel that they are underpaid:  

  • North England   67%   
  • Wales and South West    67%    
  • Midlands        65% 
  • Scotland        63% 
  • South East      63%    

Linton Penman, head of Retail Marketing at Unum, said: “This research has revealed some astounding facts about how disgruntled the UK workforce is with their wages.  The present economic climate means that many people in the UK are likely to be feeling the pinch as they deal with rising food prices, utility bills and fuel costs.  However, if they feel underpaid now, imagine how difficult life would be should they not be able to work for a while due to illness or injury.

“Many people have life insurance policies and yet, during their working life, statistically a person is much more likely to have to stop working due to an accident or illness than because they pass away. Protecting their earnings should be a priority for those who are able to do so.’’







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