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United Kingdom (UK) - Salaries

Salaries differ around the world based on the cost of living of a given country, state, city, or borough. Salaries will also differ from industry to industry, for example IT, health, and skilled service industries will have higher salary ranges than retail, office, and entry level positions. Hospitality, food industries, and construction tend to offer a higher range than other hourly positions both in the UK and United States.

According to recent studies in 2013, salaries in the United Kingdom are generally between £32,000-£62,000 for health, IT and hospitality. This also includes skilled service workers such as plumbers, contractors, and electricians. IT and health personnel can see an increase in their salaries which is nearer to CEO levels ranging above £80,000 a year. It depends on how long a person has been in the field and the qualifications they have for IT work. It is similar to the United States in that major city salaries are between $60,000 and $70,000, but wages can be as low as $15,000 and as high as $100,000.

Lower wages are often found in retail and movie theatres, which usually pay the minimum wage. In the United States, the minimum wage is around $7.64 depending on the state. States have the prerogative of setting their own rates, so some are higher and others are lower.

In the United Kingdom the current minimum wage is about £6.31 (equivalent to US $10.29 per hour). Again, this can depend on whether one lives in a major city or smaller town. It also depends on the type of employment for the starting wage.

How the National Minimum Wage Works

In the United Kingdom there is a separation of age that determines the basic minimum wage one may be paid. This is different from the United States. As long as a person is 15 years of age and has a work permit they are given the minimum wage of their county. In the UK an apprentice will earn £2.68 per hour; a person under the age of 18 will be paid £3.72 per hour; a person aged 18-20 will be paid £5.03; and anyone aged 21 or over will be paid at least £6.31 per hour.

Minimum wage law states that a person must have left school or be 16 years of age in order to qualify. Additionally, any part-time or casual labourers, agency workers, home workers, apprentices, trainees, disabled people, agricultural workers, seafarers, or offshore workers are entitled to the minimum wage. This also includes expats and foreign workers. It does not matter which industry you work in.

Typically, self-employed individuals, company directors, volunteers, government employment program workers, family members living in the same home as their employer, anyone younger than 16, and those on work placements are not entitled to the minimum wage.

Understanding the British Living Wage Concept

There is a specific amount of income said to be required for a person to live a basic life in the United Kingdom. This is called the ‘Living Wage’. It states that an hourly rate is set independently and will be updated annually based on current economic situations.

The Living Wage is always calculated on the basic cost of living. This calculation looks at typical rent, food for a family, typical utility usage, and other basic living needs in order to ensure a fair hourly wage.

Employers can choose to be a part of the Living Wage program, paying this wage rather than the minimum wage. It is a voluntary program for employers meaning they can offer minimum wage instead if they wish.

A study was conducted after the Living Wage program was launched to determine whether employers felt that the program was helpful to their workplace. Employers in London saw an 80% increase in quality of work, and absenteeism fell by 25%. About 2/3 of employers stated that recruitment and retention improved. About 70% of employers also felt their brand’s image improved, since it showed they were an ethical employer.

About 50% of employees said they felt amenable to changes in the workplace such as changing their work practices, and 75% of employees stated that a Living Wage increased their desire to work.

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