The number of people in the UK earning below the minimum wage has more than quadrupled to 2 million since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to official figures, as the lowest-paid workers in Britain suffer the most financial damage.
The Office for National Statistics said there were 2,043,000 jobs where employees aged 16 or over were paid below the legal minimum in April 2020, more than four times the 409,000 jobs a year earlier.
Highlighting the scale of the financial damage for the poorest in society during the first lockdown, it said the lowest-paying jobs were more than five times more likely to be furloughed with reduced pay.
The government statistics agency said the figures did not necessarily confirm a sharp rise in non-compliance with the minimum wage, because new rates were launched in April at the time of its survey and “many employees were furloughed and a pay rise was not reasonable”. The main national living wage for over-25s went up to £8.72 an hour, while the levels for younger adults also increased.