More than a fifth (21%) of the UK workforce is paid below the living wage, according to a report by the Living Wage Commission.
Its report, Working for poverty, which provides a detailed analysis of the rise of low pay and working poverty in the UK, found that 5.24 million employees are paid below the living wage.
The report also found that this figure is an increase of 420,000 employees, or 9%, over the last 12 months.
The Living Wage Commission will release the full report in June 2014.
Dr John Sentamu, chair of the Living Wage Commission, said: “The idea of making work pay is an empty slogan to millions of people who are hard pressed and working hard, but find themselves in a downward social spiral.
“They are often in two or three jobs just to make ends meet. Meanwhile, the UK taxpayer picks up the bill in tax credits, in-work benefits and decreased demand in the economy.
“With the economy showing signs of recovery, employers that can pay a living wage must do so. They should choose between continuing to make gains on the back of poverty wages, or doing the right thing and paying a fair wage for a hard day’s work.”