The findings by KPMG consultants and described as “shocking” by umbrella trades union group Trades Union Congress (TUC) show the workers have to survive on less than £8.30 an hour in London and £7.20 in other parts of Britain.
Campaigners have called on the government to raise the minimum wage from the current £6.19 to the living wage levels but officials say taking such a step would force many workers out of their jobs.
According to the KPMG study, England has the lowest number of the worker earning below the living wage while Northern Ireland (24 percent) and Wales (23 percent) are home to the greatest proportion of poorer workers.
“It is shocking that in this day and age one in five workers is still earning less than is needed to maintain a decent standard of living,” Frances O’Grady who will take over as TUC leader in January said.
“The living wage is not a luxury and means that low-paid workers don’t have to make tough choices over whether they can afford the everyday things that most of us take for granted, such as their fuel bill or a winter coat for their children,” she added.