Are we getting underpaid? An insight into UK salaries

In January this year, HR News reported that they had seen an increase in wages in December 2016, which seemed surprising as December is usually a quiet month for recruitment and pay rises. But how many jobs has this affected?

DCS Multiserve, cleaning company, Newcastle, has compiled some insight into the UK salaries to see what our salaries look like overall. These insights include:

  • The regions with the highest – and lowest – salaries
  • The job titles with the highest – and lowest – salaries
  • Industries, job roles and genders that pay below the National Minimum Wage

National Minimum Wage versus National Living Wage

The real question here is: what is the difference? And who does this apply to? The National Living Wage is a relatively new law that was introduced in April 2016 by the government to ensure employees aged 25 and over were entitled to a minimum set amount of money per hour of working. This doesn’t apply to those under the age of 25. For those, the National Minimum Wage is supposed to come into play. This is the minimum amount of money that an employee under the age of 25 is entitled to per hour of work.

Current National Minimum Wage (NMW) per hour:

  • Apprentice: £3.40
  • Under 18s: £4
  • 18-20: £5.55
  • 21-24: £6.95

National Living Wage (NLW) per hour:

  • 25 and over: £7.20

People with part-time jobs are more likely not to be paid the NMW or the NLW

The Office for National Statistics revealed that in October 2016, there were 362,000 jobs paying less than the NMW or the NLW to their employees – which equates to 1.3% of all UK jobs.

Further divided, that is 2.4% of part-time jobs and 0.9% of full-time jobs.

People aged 18-20 are most likely to be paid less than the NMW or NLW

Of those 362,000 jobs that are paying less than the NMW or NLW:

  • 1% of jobs for 18-20 year olds are underpaying employees
  • 4% of jobs for 21-24 year olds pay under
  • 3% of jobs for people 25 and over are underpaid

Women are more likely to be paid less than the NMW or NLW

  • 7% of jobs worked by females are underpaid, whereas only 1% of males are paid less than minimum wage. That’s 230,000 jobs contrasted with 132,000.
  • 1% of females who work full-time jobs are paid below the minimum wage, in contrast to only 0.7% of males. That’s 90,000 jobs contrasted with 88,000.
  • 4% of women employees working part-time jobs are paid less than minimum wage, contrasted with 2.3% of part-time jobs worked by men. That’s 140,000 jobs contrasted with 44,000.

Workers in the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber are most likely to be paid less the NMW or NLW

  • 7% of the jobs in those regions are paid less than the minimum wage, which equates to 40,000 and 38,000 jobs respectively.
  • London (0.9%) and Scotland (1%) top the least-likely regions to pay less than the minimum wage, equating to 35,000 and 25,000 jobs respectively.

Hairdressing and childcare are most likely to pay below the NMW or NLW

  • 7% of hairdressers are likely to be paid below the NMW, which equates to approximately 8,000 jobs.
  • 4% of childcare jobs pay less than the NMW – equating to 9,000 jobs.

Salaries and job titles

In a recent article, the Independent revealed the highest paid jobs of 2016. And the results?

The top five best paid jobs comprised of:

  1. Chief executives and senior officials hold first place, earning a desirable £85.3K per year.
  2. Pilots and flight engineers were next, taking home around £85K per year.
  3. Air traffic controllers are said to be paid about £80K per year.
  4. Transport Associate professionals can expect to take home £75.5K per year.
  5. Marketing and sales professionals are expected to earn about £70K per year.

And the top five worst paid jobs? Business Insider UK reported:

  1. Waiting staff can earn around £266.40 per week, without tips – £13,852.80 per year.
  2. Theme park attendants are usually paid about £273.30 per week – £14,211.60 per year.
  3. Bar staff can take home £274.00 per week – £14,248 per year.
  4. Hairdressers and barbers are likely to be paid £274.10 per week, without tips – £14,253.20 per year.
  5. Dry cleaners typically earn £275.40 per week – £14,320.80 per year.

Salaries and regions

The average salary of UK regions is detailed below, ordered from highest to lowest:*


Weekly: £544.02

Annual: £28,289.30

Greater South East

Weekly: £531.89

Annual: £27,658.25

South West

Weekly: £500.38

Annual: £26,019.93

East Midlands

Weekly: £478.86

Annual: £24,900.72

West Midlands

Weekly: £474.125

Annual: £24,654.5

North East

Weekly: £461.90

Annual: £24,013.60

North West

Weekly: £458.18

Annual: £23,825.24


Weekly: £454.13

Annual: £23,614.93


Weekly: £453.37

Annual: £23,575.07

Northern Ireland

Weekly: £448.10

Annual: £23,301.20


  • The region with the highest average salary in the UK is Scotland; they on average earn around £28,289.30 per annum.
  • The region with the lowest average salary in the UK is Northern Ireland, at £23,301.20.
  • There is a difference between the average salary of the highest paid region compared with the lowest paid region of around £4,988.10.
  • Based on the above data, the average UK salary is £24,985.27 – the closest region to this is the East Midlands at an annual salary of £24,900.72.