Concern raised over gap between minimum wage and living wage

Social Justice Ireland says 'hundreds of thousands' of working people cannot achieve a decent standard of living

Concern raised over gap between minimum wage and living wage

Picture by: Nicolas Armer/DPA/PA Images

Social Justice Ireland says it is seriously concerned about the gap between the minimum wage and the living wage.

The minimum wage is currently set at €9.25 an hour, although that is set to increase by 30 cent to €9.55 in January following a recommendation by the Low Pay Commission.

Just over 10% of employees are reported to earn the minimum wage.

However, the living wage - defined as the pay rate needed to maintain a normal standard of living of €11.70 per hour - is now considered to be €11.70 per hour, based on a 39 hour work week.

There is no legal obligation for employers to pay a living wage.

In their latest 'Employment Monitor', Social Justice Ireland says there are 'hundreds of thousands' of people at work "who are unable to achieve a decent standard of living".

The organisation says that while the increasing number of people in employment is to be welcomed, policymakers must now focus on 'job quality'.

It also argues: "The National Minimum Wage [...] is not based on the cost of living and is set at a somewhat arbitrary level. It has never been linked to the cost of living, nor indexed in line with changes in the cost of living."

Analyst Eamon Murphy says the Government needs to set out a plan to close the gap.

He observed that even with the expected increase to the minimum wage, "we're looking at approximately a 20% gap between the National Minimum Wage and the living wage".

He added that the Government needs to set out a 'pathway or framework' in order to close the gap.