Employment survey quashes wages myth

01 January 2000
Employment survey quashes wages myth

The idea that lower rates of pay in the hospitality sector will lead to higher employment is a myth, according to a survey published this week.

The survey reveals that in April more than a quarter of Jobcentre vacancies in the hotel and catering sector offered rates of pay below the minimum set by the Wages Councils before their abolition a year ago.

The proportion had risen since a survey carried out in November, when a fifth of vacancies offered less than the Wages Councils' rate.

But the Low Pay Network, which carried out both surveys, said the falling rates of pay had not corresponded with rising numbers of people in work. It pointed to Employment Department figures which show a loss of 27,000 jobs in hotel and catering between September 1993 and March 1994.

The most recent survey looked at 3,326 hospitality posts displayed at 128 Jobcentres around the country. It found some 28.6% offered rates lower than the new minimum wages due to come into effect after the Wages Councils' abolition on 30 August last year.

In hotels and licensed restaurants the minimum would have risen in November from £2.92 to £2.97 an hour, while in pubs and clubs it would have risen from £3.01 to £3.08 in January. In cafés and unlicensed restaurants the minimum was not due to rise until July this year, so the last legal minimum of £2.99 an hour was used for the survey.

The report gives several examples of low rates of pay:

  • second commis chef with City & Guilds 706/1, £1.58 an hour;

  • commis chef with at least one year's experience, £2.25 an hour;

  • waiting staff, £2 per hour plus tips;

  • hotel housekeeping assistant, £2.05 an hour.

The report's author, Gabrielle Cox, said pay was likely to fall further in the absence of a legal minimum wage. "There is little doubt that we are likely to see a continuing deterioration in wage rates in what were already low-paying sectors," she said.

  • The report, After the Safety Net, costs £3.50 from the Low Pay Network, tel: 061-953 4024.
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