The median wage for those considered essential workers during the pandemic is £12.26 per hour, compared with £13.26 per hour for those in a non-essential role.
At the bottom of the pile were social care and agricultural workers, sectors in which women and migrant workers are significantly over-represented. The IFS noted that 30% of food sector staff – who earn an average of just £8.59 per hour – are born outside of the UK, as are one in four health and social care workers.
Further, the figures showed that the wage gap between essential workers and those in non-key roles nearly doubled between 2010 and 2019 (from 5% to 9%) as a result of swingeing cuts to public sector funding from Westminster.
Unions have been calling for key workers to receive a fair wage in recognition of the invaluable service they have provided during this national crisis.
TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, noted that the Coronavirus recession has hit the UK before it has recovered from the 2008 financial crash, with the latest data from the Office for National Statistics showing that real wages returned to below pre-crash levels and unemployment rose at the beginning of 2020.
“Our frontline heroes desperately need a pay rise,” she said.