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Low-paid workers bearing brunt of Covid job losses, new research shows

LOW-PAID workers are bearing the brunt of lost jobs, lay-offs and short-term employment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, new research shows.

The study, from employment rights group the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), found low-paid workers are more than twice as likely to have lost their jobs.

About four million workers have either been temporarily laid off or are working fewer hours than normal, its report said.

IES director Tony Wilson said: “This crisis has already taken a significant toll on jobs and incomes, with low-paid workers bearing the brunt.

“With unemployment set to rise sharply this year, we are likely still in the foothills of the employment crisis, but we can take action now and at the Budget to address this.

“We need to do more to support low-income households, reform sick pay and ensure that workplace rights can be properly enforced.”

Loss of employment during the crisis has been driven by falls in lower-paying jobs such as food services and manufacturing, hospitality, residential care and construction, said the report.

Carolyn Jones, director of the Institute of Employment Rights, said: “Covid has been compared to an X-ray, revealing the fractures in the fragile skeleton of the societies we have built.

“Those fractures have been particularly evident in the UK after decades of austerity, cuts in services, deregulation of workplaces and outsourcing of jobs. 

"The most vulnerable are once again paying the price – not just in jobs and pay, but in health.

“Shocking figures from ONS reveal the extent to which low-paid workers, women and BAME people have been disproportionately struck down. 

“Workplace health is a public health issue. The system isn’t working for working people. It’s time for change.”

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