Most employees don't think they're paid what they're worth - survey

Most workers don't think they're getting paid what they're worth, according to a new survey.

And slightly more than half think their incomes aren't keeping up with the cost of living. 

"They're still struggling to pay the rent - housing costs are very expensive," said Richard Wagstaff, president of the Council of Trade Unions, which carried out the survey.

"Many people don't feel like they're being valued, really, in terms of their pay packet for the contribution they make." 

Only two in five said their pay was keeping up with, or outpacing, the cost of living. But this is an improvement on recent years' results, Wagstaff said. Last year more than two-thirds reported falling behind. 

"The more positive income and employment statistics of 2019 are translating into people feeling better off than they did a year ago, but right now it seems too many working people are still doing it tough, struggling to make ends meet and feeling undervalued at work.

"The Government's reinstatement of work rights that had been eroded by their predecessors has certainly contributed to giving people the ability to get a better deal at work."

Unemployment hit a decade-low last year, falling to 3.9 percent in June before edging up to 4.2 percent in the September quarter. 

Wagstaff says there needs to be industry-wide fair-pay deals, not just union agreements. 

"We don't have a wage-setting systems that ensures occupations across the board are fairly rewarded, and that's why we are pushing hard for the introduction of fair-pay agreements - so we have genuine industry standards."

Another finding from the survey was that 81 percent felt they couldn't raise health and safety concerns in the workplace and 46 percent said bullying is still an issue. 

"Those kinds of results in the survey really signalled to us that there isn't a culture where people feel they could speak up," said Wagstaff. "That really needs to be changed."

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 48 percent saying their workload has gotten worse and only 8 percent better (an improvement on 2019, which was 55 and 7 percent respectively); 
  • 39 percent reporting a worse work-life balance and 13 percent better (46 percent and 12 percent in 2019)
  • 70 percent reporting unchanged or improved job security (up from 63 percent in 2019).