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AIBU?

To not agree that anyone can do lower paid jobs and top jobs have to pay well as few people can do them?

206 replies

CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 00:45

Following on from the 6 figure thread and a comment about justifying these wages.
I get annoyed by hearing this over and over.
I'm a social worker on 28K. I don't think everyone could do my job. Or do it well. Today my day has consisted of getting a small child to trust me enough in a half hour visit in order to talk to me about their feelings, speaking to an unaccompanied asylum seeker about benefits with no translator available, writing a report for court, being sworn at repeatedly by a teenager who was under the influence and chairing a multidisciplinary meeting with police, school, local authorities, NHS etc. I have to be able to talk to parents about their drug screening results without them feeling judged and disengaging, yet be able to turn around and hold my own with solicitors and judges.
I have to be relatable to people who are in the midst of a mental health crisis or addiction, but also professional and articulate. I have to be flexible and adapt to the many urgent referrals which come in but I cannot let any of my regular contact or statutory visits breach timeframes.

I'm certain that not people many could be teachers or nurses or air hostesses either. I'm certain I would make a terrible barista or bank clerk! Many doctors I know say that they wouldn't have the skills to be their own secretaries or P.A's.

These jobs are not poorly paid because they are unskilled or because anyone could do them. They are poorly paid because they are traditionally done by women and/or because they don't make anyone else substantially richer. In fact I really struggle to think of a female dominated profession which pays well. Maybe accountancy?

OP posts:
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egowise · 07/02/2024 08:22

You hit the nail on the head, it's 'women's' work.

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Cma1988 · 07/02/2024 08:25

I’m a social worker OP - I earn £42k - but I’m senior, and been going at it for 9 years this year. I started in 2015 on £26k. So the pay does go up eventually.

however, if I’m honest, I still feel underpaid for the work I do. It’s not as if I work Monday to Friday 9-5. Most days I work either Saturday or Sunday to catch by on paperwork and most evenings I finish after 6pm. it’s awful, and I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go into social work now.

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ImthatBoleyngirl · 07/02/2024 08:25

I think of social work as a skilled job, and I didn't realise how little it paid. I thought it would be much more as it's so important and definitely not easy!

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AndThatWasNY · 07/02/2024 08:25

CurlsnSunshinetime4tea · 07/02/2024 01:21

the thing is, if you are bright enough to make it through the sw uni program you are equally bright enough to have undertaken studies in a field that pays more.
yes you are very underpaid for what you do BUT with a different focus you could easily have become an hr lawyer and have been paid more.

But the point being she shouldn't have to. The work she is doing should be valued by society as equal (or really more important) than an HR lawyer or banker or whatever and should be reflected in the pay.
Obviously because we live in a patriarchal, capitalist society jobs that are traditionally held by female and don't make make money aren't paid well.
Even the most selfish people who don't get a toss about children being abused should want to help themselves families as if we help families be better parents, save children from abuse, neglect and hardship helps create a safer society.

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Ohdeardddddeardear · 07/02/2024 08:27

I think it’s absolutely abhorrent that we reward roles that simply make rich people richer so handsomely yet pay people like you, OP, such measly salaries. It says a lot about what we value most as a society and makes me despair at how society has been set up.

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underneaththeash · 07/02/2024 08:29

Aishah231 · 07/02/2024 07:38

I agree OP. I'm not sure what magical skills jobs like ceos and investment bankers have which justify the salary. On a lower level my experience of head teachers is they are the most incompetent person in the building, hated the job and therefore put all their energy into doing courses so they could get promoted out of the classroom. I'm sure there are some good ones out there - but I've never met one.

They make the money which pays their salaries. Investment bankers basic is usually low 6 figures and the majority of their pay is a percentage of the money that they make for other people.

@CheekboneMagazine you must have known the salaries social workers command before entering your profession. I completely agree that you're underpaid - but you seem to be particularly poorly paid - this is a list of the social worker jobs on indeed and they all seem to be more than 26K
https://uk.indeed.com/q-social-worker-jobs.html?vjk=5baace9c9cee01f2

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sleekcat · 07/02/2024 08:30

I'm a TA and I really enjoy the job. But I am going to have to leave and find a new career in two years when my son leaves school, as I can't afford to do that job without UC top up, and I won't qualify for a penny when he's 18. I'll have a salary that's not liveable on.

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minipie · 07/02/2024 08:31

They are poorly paid because they are traditionally done by women and/or because they don't make anyone else substantially richer

Haven’t read the whole thread but I think you hit the nail on the head here OP

These 6 figure jobs are paid so well because they make money for other people/corporates. Lawyers bankers tax advisers etc make and save lots of money for corporates, who will therefore pay huge fees for their services. There is an element of there not being loads of people who could do the job (otherwise competition would drive down the fees) but the main factor is the money they generate for clients.

Who will provide the money for social workers, nurses, teachers to be paid more? Taxpayers will simply not vote for higher taxes - unless and until it becomes clear that there is a recruitment crisis and their local hospital/child’s school is being affected. Then they might support slightly higher tax and public sector pay. But only to the extent needed to recruit.

Ultimately the money for salaries has to come from other people, and it’s going to be related to how much those other people are willing to pay.

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Botanica · 07/02/2024 08:34

The skills required to successfully lead a major multinational corporation as CEO or board level are WAY BEYOND the capacity and capability of most of us, not even to mention the compromises made.

To not recognise that and claim otherwise is hugely naive and ignorant of how businesses operate.

Don't forget whilst moaning about those higher up the ladder in the private sector that what growth actually provides is job creation for millions of employees across the country, as well as profits which go to shareholders such as your pension funds and the like.

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ReinNotReignItIn · 07/02/2024 08:36

Ultimately, the public sector is not a business that makes money. Thus there is a cap as to what is paid. However, I definitely think the lower bands need to be paid much more across-the-board and that includes nursing and social work. I am a hospital consultant of almost 30 years and I’m on a six figure salary. But that has only been recently in my 50s. And I don’t apologise for my salary; my training in the early nineties was brutal and my hourly pay was laughable. The responsibility I have now is enormous and I have not called in sick since I started this consultant job. People who get paid more are also often older than people on lower incomes, which is an important point.

However it is clear that this country does not value the important jobs and we are seeing the effects of that in society. I have also always hated the term unskilled work. For example, some people are better at cleaning than others. So of course it is a skilled job.

Whilst public sector workers will never reach city finance salaries, their annual income needs to be significantly higher for the work that is done.

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Jellycatspyjamas · 07/02/2024 08:40

Whilst public sector workers will never reach city finance salaries, their annual income needs to be significantly higher for the work that is done.

Which means tax payers need to be prepared to fund higher salaries through tax.

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FrenchieF · 07/02/2024 08:45

Op i totally agree with you.

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Bornonsunday · 07/02/2024 08:45

Don't forget that hardly anyone earns 6 figures. The top 5% earn over £80k and they'll mainly work in London.

We live in an area with lower wages and most solicitors, accountants etc earn nothing like 6 figures.

Also don't forget the pension. Public sector pensions are worth their weight in gold so you're really earning at least 20% more than the equivalent salary in the private sector.

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HardcoreLadyType · 07/02/2024 08:47

Emma8888 · 07/02/2024 01:43

It's market forces. Enough people want to go into caring professions like social work , nursing etc. that they don't have to entice people in with more money.

It's also true on the upper end, too few people want to go into certain niche jobs that they will pay much more to get candidates. It's not necessarily that they are smarter, it's that they are a peg that fits an empty hole.

If it’s market forces, how come we have a shortage of teachers? If market forces were at work, pay for teachers would rise, until all the teaching posts were filled. But this has not happened.

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5128gap · 07/02/2024 08:49

I think scarcity of skill set is one reason for higher pay obviously. But there are other factors, like how much money the role creates for the employer and the value society sees in the role. While we should place the highest value on roles that provide our necessities and keep us alive, we take these things for granted and instead value the roles that make our lives more entertaining, fun, luxurious and affluent. Which is why celebrities and people who move money around are valued more highly than carers and those in food production.

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Merrymouse · 07/02/2024 08:50

Botanica · 07/02/2024 08:34

The skills required to successfully lead a major multinational corporation as CEO or board level are WAY BEYOND the capacity and capability of most of us, not even to mention the compromises made.

To not recognise that and claim otherwise is hugely naive and ignorant of how businesses operate.

Don't forget whilst moaning about those higher up the ladder in the private sector that what growth actually provides is job creation for millions of employees across the country, as well as profits which go to shareholders such as your pension funds and the like.

Are they? Apparently nobody on the Post Office Board knew how a bookkeeping/accounting system was supposed to work, or had the slightest clue about IT systems.

Look at how much they spent on trying to defend Horizon in court instead of just checking whether it worked. Look how much money that is costing now.

You say ‘successfully lead’ but the rewards for being unsuccessful are also very good.

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DreadPirateRobots · 07/02/2024 08:51

You're missing the point.

The market rewards skills according to their value (their ability to make money) and their scarcity, not their difficulty. Your job is very difficult, in many ways. But the skills required to do it aren't particularly high-value, and there also isn't sufficient scarcity to push the salary up.

A "public service" job is pretty much always going to be low value from a salary POV, because bluntly put, there is no money in doing it; the state puts a finite budget against an infinite bottomless need. You either have to make your peace with that or do something else.

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Acapulco12 · 07/02/2024 08:52

FredaFox · 07/02/2024 02:03

@Acapulco12 as are people in the private sector without the benefits of public
Jobs at the lower end of the scale especially are not paid more in public which is often why people say

I agree that public sector jobs can offer more workplace benefits, but I’m not sure the working conditions (which are getting worse, in my opinion) match the benefits (which are also getting less generous). I think it’s up to each individual to decide. I’ve seen and heard of so many situations where people have left public sector jobs because the working conditions are so bad over the last few years.

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PurpleBugz · 07/02/2024 08:55

If you are out of work there is obviously and rightly pressure to get a job. I'm going back years and years now but when I was in that situation going for my weekly job centre meeting they pushed carer roles and nursery worker. Having worked in childcare I see lots of people just doing it as they need a job to fit around their kids or they have had to get work fast and these jobs are always available. This high turnover isn't good for those they care for in particular children and if you don't care about the job you won't do such a good one and this impacts the outcomes for the kids. My disabled child has had carers, some have just been terrible and their poor effort has lead to him becoming more challenging behaviourally. The one we have now is a saint he's save my family from imploding he works so hard and goes above and beyond for my son- on minimum wage with a violent child who soils himself and fights you trying to change him. I do think people who can should work but at the same time pushing them into jobs like care is a bad idea as it devalues the opinion we have of these workers and the standard of care suffers

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Dbank · 07/02/2024 08:55

You're answering your own question, you are lowly paid because you're doing the job.

If someone is prepared to do the job for the money, then they don't need to be paid more.

It's really that simple

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WhenWereYouUnderMe · 07/02/2024 08:56

I do think it's a function of the capitalist structure. The most valued jobs are those that are seen to be creating jobs and wealth. The more you contribute to GDP by generating spend and employment the more valuable you are to society.

It's not correct but it's how it works.

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Beezknees · 07/02/2024 08:57

I couldn't do your job. I work in customer service and you don't need any qualifications to do my job but you do need to have the right kind of personality and a thick skin to deal with the shitty comments.

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minipie · 07/02/2024 08:57

If it’s market forces, how come we have a shortage of teachers? If market forces were at work, pay for teachers would rise, until all the teaching posts were filled. But this has not happened.

Market forces are somewhat blunted in the case of public sector because the employer (the government) is not considering “will we make more money by paying teachers more”. They are considering “will we get more votes by paying teachers more” and that means balancing the vote losing effects of raising taxes against the vote losing effects of a teacher shortage. They will wait until the teacher shortage is sufficiently acute to be a vote loser. Then wages will rise. But just enough to solve the immediate crisis.

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Differentfromtherest · 07/02/2024 08:59

nappyvalley2024 · 07/02/2024 08:13

The problem is, if social/care work paid massive salaries it would attract the wrong kind of people. Would you really want someone caring for your child/elderly relative just because it paid well.

What is the wrong kind of person? Someone who wants to be able to pay their bills and have a decent standard of living?

The current shortage of nurses, social workers, and care home staff is exacerbated by low pay and excessive workloads, leading to attrition and reluctance to enter these professions.

Enhancing both remuneration and workload management would incentivize more individuals to pursue careers in these fields.

It doesn't take long for compassion and empathy to diminish in any individual, - no matter how much they love their work - when working in a high-stress environment where pay does not reflect the level of responsibility they have.

Suppressed wages in these sectors are seriously undermining the quality and availability of essential services - which impact society as a whole.

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Ginmonkeyagain · 07/02/2024 09:02

@Merrymouse The Post Office was and is a public body, not a multi national corporation.

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