Almost one in 10 on minimum wage

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The debate about extending parental leave to allow new fathers to take time off work shows how difficult it is to square workers’ rights and viable business plans.

The measure will be embraced across the public service and maybe bigger, more robust businesses, but it will, like it or not, be the straw that might break smaller businesses. Progress for some is an insurmountable challenge for others.

The CSO published figures yesterday detailing another seemingly insurmountable challenge.

They showed how many — too many — workers are on minimum wages and how women are more likely to earn it than men. The data shows that 137,200 employees, nearly 8% of all workers, earn the statutory minimum wage of €9.55 an hour. Of these, 55.3% (75,900) were female.

This will feed into wider concern about pay differentials between men and women, which have widened here since the financial crash.

At a time when so many workers enjoying far better terms than these are struggling to make ends meet, much less buy a home, these figures describe a growing cohort, the working poor. That they are often employed on terms that entitle them to welfare support rubs salt into the wound, especially as those supports are often subsidies for profitable enterprises, rather than a low-paid worker. 

This is an age-old problem that may require a linkage between profits and wages to be resolved — even if that unnerves the status quo.

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