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  • Extremely high levels of turnover were in evidence in London's low paid job market with two-fifths of workers having been with their current employer for 12 months or less.

  • In contrast to the image of migrant workers as 'benefit scroungers' and working 'off the books', 94% of people paid tax and National Insurance, whilst fewer than 1 in 5 (16%) claimed any kind of state benefits (Working Tax Credits, Child Benefit etc).

  • Contrary to stereotypes of lone male migrant workers, the majority of people lived with other members of their family - whether partners, parents or children. A third were responsible for dependent children (children under the age of 16) in the UK. A third also had dependants living abroad, and two thirds regularly sent money overseas.

  • In half of the worker’s households, other members also worked, suggesting that more than one salary was needed to survive in London. In most cases, the second earner also worked in low paid service work.

  • London's low paid labour market is clearly segmented by ethnicity and gender. Although almost half (47%) of those interviewed were women, men and women often did quite different jobs. Typically, women worked in ‘semi-private’ spaces such as hotels, and in the case of care work, the houses of clients, whilst men worked in ‘semi-public’ spaces such as office cleaning or on the Underground.

  • Different parts of London's low paid economy are dominated by particular migrant groups in terms of nationality and region. Over half of those employed as contract cleaners on London Underground were from Ghana or Nigeria (58%), with a quarter employed in office cleaning from Latin America (26%), and just over a quarter of those employed in hotel and hospitality work from Eastern Europe (27%).

  • Such concentrations seem to be at least partly the result of strong migrant networks. Nearly two thirds of people had found their current job through friends and family.

  • The highest rates of pay and best conditions of work were found in the home care sector. The lowest rates of pay were in London's hotel and catering industry.

  • The research indicates that there is an increasing trend towards subcontracted employment in the low paid economy. This increases the costs borne by those doing the work as workers who remain or used to be ‘in house’ have better pay and conditions than those taken on directly by subcontracted service providers.

  • There is an urgent need for public and private organisations to take responsibility for their employees’ conditions of work.


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