The research by KPMG, which also showed 80% of kitchen and catering assistants fall below the Living Wage, was released on the same day the voluntary rate was raised 20p to £7.85 an hour nationally and by 35p to £9.15 an hour in London.
Hospitality staff topped the list of occupations by proportion below the Living Wage. The mean wage for bar staff was £6.57 (up from 0.3% last year), while for waiting staff it was £6.70 (+1.2%) and kitchen and catering assistants £6.89 (+2.3%).
In total £5.2m people in the UK are paid less than the Living Wage, according to KPMG – making up 22% of the total workforce, up from 21% last year. The research showed that almost three million of those jobs were part-time roles.
Mike Kelly, head of Living Wage at KPMG, said: “Although there are almost 1,000 organisations pledged to pay a Living Wage, far too many UK employees are stuck in the spiral of low pay.
“With the cost of living still high the squeeze on household finances remains acute, meaning that the reality for many is that they are forced to live hand to mouth. Inflation may be easing, but unless wages rise we will continue to see huge swathes of people caught between the desire to contribute to society and the inability to afford to do so.
For some time it was easy for businesses to hide behind the argument that increased wages hit their bottom line, but there is ample evidence to suggest the opposite – in the shape of higher retention and higher productivity. It may not be possible for every business, but it is certainly not impossible to explore the feasibility of paying a Living Wage.”
Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, said: “It is welcome that the number of accredited Living Wage firms has increased. But far more needs to be done to help millions of people move from low pay to living pay. Employers and government both have a key role to play. With the right leadership Britain can become a Living Wage country over the next decade.”