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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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Ellie56 · 07/02/2024 10:34

@CheekboneMagazine

You are not paid anywhere near enough for all you do and the skills required. No wonder there is a shortage of social workers.

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ReinNotReignItIn · 07/02/2024 10:38

Jellycatspyjamas · 07/02/2024 09:14

Public servants should love the City; the more they cream off wealthy individuals, the better paid they can be.

That’s great in theory but you also see how far higher earners will go to reduce their tax burden - people earning well into six figures complaining they don’t get support with childcare, moaning about not getting child benefit, throwing money at their pension to get under the £100,000 threshold etc. Which is their right but it means there’s less tax income in the pot to support public sector services.

Its fine saying teachers, nurses, social workers, carers should be paid more, but no one wants to pay more tax to cover it.

I don’t agree with that nobody wants to pay more tax to cover it. I certainly would. Though I work in the NHS so I am biased.

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noworklifebalance · 07/02/2024 10:40

I would argue that your job is highly skilled and not many people could do it.

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massistar · 07/02/2024 11:04

It's awful. There's no way I could do your job. It's very highly skilled.

I'm one of the ones from the 6 figure thread and fundamentally it's mainly down to capitalism. My job brings in new business for my company. 100s of millions of dollars worth of business. Our capitalist society values that.

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Merrymouse · 07/02/2024 11:16

Jellycatspyjamas · 07/02/2024 10:12

Enough people are putting job satisfaction/ fulfilment (in teaching, nursing, SW etc) above pay that the gov can just about manage to keep pay low. If people weren't willing to work for that money, there'd be nobody in these jobs (i accept there is a shortage).

Except people aren’t. There are significant recruitment issues in teaching and social work.

In social work many child protection teams are running at 50% capacity because they can’t recruit and retain staff. The same teams that get castigated every time there’s a child death. The profession is unsustainable in its current form and salary is part of the issue. People want decent public protection (or at least they weep and wail when it doesn’t happen) but no one wants to pay for it.

Exactly -but we all rely on these service

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MasterBeth · 07/02/2024 11:18

CheekboneMagazine · 07/02/2024 01:30

@Acapulco12 thanks, this wasn't supposed to be a social work appreciation post.
My baby was delivered by a midwife on a 12 hour shift with no break.
My child's TA is routinely kicked and punched by other SEN children. They also pretty much teach the lesson when there's a supply.
My friend has to ring people to go through confidential medical questionnaires relating to BMI, past drug use, BBV's and basically triage the referrals with no medical training.
Receptionists in doctors constantly being sworn at for asking routine questions.
All these professions deserve better pay.

I work in a creative role in a marketing agency. I earn more than double than you, and I'm not paid brilliantly for my industry (I'd be on at least three times your salary if I did this role in London).

I have friends and relatives who are teachers, social workers, mental health nurses. They either earn less, or have far more responsibility, than me. It's not fair. It's not right.

It's capitalism.

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EmmaStone · 07/02/2024 11:25

It's all economics - supply and demand. No employer is going to pay more than necessary to get the right body in the chair. Also, one's gross salary is only part of a package - I may get an above average gross salary, but I don't get loads of holiday (31 days inc BHs), my employer only contributes 3% to my pension, I frequently work unpaid overtime, during holidays and my days off (and from my Covid sickbed). When I was at University, I wanted a job that would pay me to have a lifestyle I wanted to attain, so that's what I did. I'm lucky that I enjoy my job, but I wouldn't have pursued a job that didn't pay well.

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Usernamen · 07/02/2024 11:32

minipie · 07/02/2024 09:43

Yes BUT numbers of women in law firms drop off hugely at around age 30 and above - which also tends to be when the 6 figures kicks in. At senior levels in law firms it is still mostly men. Women leave law or go in house or to smaller firms which pay less.

Wouldn’t be surprised if the same applies in medicine - women 30+ often go part time or choose more flexible (but also less well paid) specialisms.

And?

They are still well-paid professions which are female dominated.

If the OP’s claim that jobs are low paid because women choose to do them, then pay in medicine and law would have dropped off a cliff decades ago. But it hasn’t.

You might want to look up the trend in female % of equity partners in law firms and female % of consultants - growing year on year with no sign of slowing down (the junior cohorts coming through are mostly women, those retiring mostly men).

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XelaM · 07/02/2024 11:41

@minipie

Yes BUT numbers of women in law firms drop off hugely at around age 30 and above - which also tends to be when the 6 figures kicks in. At senior levels in law firms it is still mostly men. Women leave law or go in house or to smaller firms which pay less.

Not my experience at all and I work in the City for one of the largest law firms in the world - in an almost all-female team. The larger the firm the better the maternity package usually. I have never felt disadvantaged as a woman in the legal profession.

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MamaAlwaysknowsbest · 07/02/2024 11:42

Life is not fair. You should be paid much more for what you do. Someone sitting on a desk ( ok, doing what for humanity ), tell me, what really is getting over 100 000. Of course it is not fair and it is bollocks to say some random chap and gal are worth more in money because have bigger brain. Look at their expenditures, morals and how they treat others and you see they are morally broken like everyone else, if not worse, having in mind what one can pay these days with more money.

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MamaAlwaysknowsbest · 07/02/2024 11:43

Look at Prince Andrew and the amount of money he has and it will tell you , all you need to know about the rich, well paid and anyone who takes time to boast their betterness based on money.

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KreedKafer · 07/02/2024 12:30

None of the six-figure salary people where I work would last five minutes working in a care home, teaching at a primary school, working on the door at nightclub, being a hospital porter, working in an abattoir, etc. They would all happily admit this.

There are some highly paid jobs that very few people can do. There are also some very badly paid jobs that very few people can do, and often they are the very jobs that are the most necessary for society to function. For example, I'm pretty sure that the Director of Sales & Marketing at your favourite supermarket chain does not make as much difference to your daily life as the people who stack the shelves.

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Bringbackspring · 07/02/2024 12:44

Why are there so many responses basically saying you should change jobs/fields if you want to earn more? This post isn't about the OP wanting to earn more (although I'm sure they do). It's to make the point that low pay does not equal low skill. Many very challenging jobs are low paid. And on the flip side, we regularly see threads on here from well paid people (or mid-well paid) saying they don't have much to do at work and they are a bit bored. Also many high earners are propped up in their jobs/lives by other people doing a lot of the work for them on a significantly lower wage. These high earners are not always particularly bright. Many of the most senior people I work with lack the basic knowledge required to book a train ticket or find an agenda that was emailed to them 3 times.

And as has been said many, many times on MN, if everyone leaves the low paying jobs to become a lawyer or an accountant, who the hell is going to provide care for anyone, serve you in a shop, make your precious fancy coffees? And who on earth needs that many accountants!

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RebelMoon · 07/02/2024 12:48

I'm often mildly ashamed that I sit on my ample arse in my home office and earn twice the amount people like OP are paid. My job is technically difficult but ultimately I'm sat at a desk pressing keys. My work doesn't change people's lives. It sucks that society doesn't value the jobs that really matter.

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Naptrappedmummy · 07/02/2024 12:49

But how would the funds be redistributed, realistically? Does anyone have any ideas?

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Ginmonkeyagain · 07/02/2024 13:07

@Bringbackspring high earners don't get paid to book train tickets etc.. that is why people are paid to do it for them.

It is a false economy to pay someone £150k plus a year and make them do their own admin.

The highest earners are not so much paid for their capacity for hard work but their ability to make decisons and their knowledge.

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Alicewinn · 07/02/2024 13:13

Yes I think there's truth in female roles being underpaid as well. Rightly or wrongly I always found the quickest way to get a pay rise is to leave the job and find a better paying/more respectful company/boss

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Bringbackspring · 07/02/2024 13:32

@Ginmonkeyagain I wasn't suggesting that high earners should be able to book their own tickets. It was just a basic example of how they are not necessarily smart. Of course they don't need to book their own tickets. My point was that I work with some very senior, well paid people who can't find the nose on their face most of the time. And some low paid admins who I swear could run the organisation if they had to.

I also disagree that it's always about them having knowledge/decision making ability. Many do of course, I don't dispute that. But I often find it's a case of he/she who shouts loudest wins. There are lots of very loud people in organisations who say everything with such an air of confidence that people assume they must know what they're talking about and promote them up the ranks, when half the time they're spouting utter bollocks.

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BillionaireTea · 07/02/2024 14:59

In a fair market, the total net benefits of a job would be valued - both private benefits (i.e how much money the job generates for the employer) plus social benefits (i.e the total value of that work to society as a whole including indirect benefits such as cutting crime etc). We’d also factor in any social costs of various jobs (eg, pollution generated by some work). 

absolutely love this idea. It's a lot like assessing wellbeing not GDP as measure of national growth.

OP is definitely underpaid.

Can I throw in another dimension of reward? Responsibility and management of culture. The tasks OP mentions that make up her busy day are skilled. However they are all discrete tasks and while she probably takes huge care over individuals (and I daresay would get up at 3am if a client called in a desperate state), she is not responsible for the outcomes of hundreds or thousands of people.

If you are a CEO or a very public facing role, especially in a global or huge business, or leading even a part of an institution like central government or the NHS, you have to be fronting it all the time. You don't just have to be doing tasks, you have to be choosing and prioritising and managing the culture and mood of many, many other people.

In my "biggest" job I had to weigh my words amd my facial expression carefully every second, juggle so so many competing priorities, always bear in mind what was happening and what the political or corporate climate might do to our brand and organisation - you never turn off the news or switch off. It's sort of like having a baby, you can't forget it even if someone else is technically in charge for a day while you have a nap.

Your own health is secondary, if you have to appear at something you have to be there.

I know that's the case with e.g. junior doctors too- there is always a counterfactual. Basically I agree our way of valuing things is fucked. But I just wanted to point out that there is a particular kind of stress in bring responsible for thousands- that most of us don't note or know about.

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nearlylovemyusername · 07/02/2024 15:01

KreedKafer · 07/02/2024 12:30

None of the six-figure salary people where I work would last five minutes working in a care home, teaching at a primary school, working on the door at nightclub, being a hospital porter, working in an abattoir, etc. They would all happily admit this.

There are some highly paid jobs that very few people can do. There are also some very badly paid jobs that very few people can do, and often they are the very jobs that are the most necessary for society to function. For example, I'm pretty sure that the Director of Sales & Marketing at your favourite supermarket chain does not make as much difference to your daily life as the people who stack the shelves.

This post shows how little understanding people have about high paying jobs - Director of Sales & Marketing at my favourite supermarket chain makes a huge difference to me - they define pricing/promo and product strategies so direct impact on my wallet and on my diet. And there are very few people able to do great job there. Shelf stackers - not at all, they only execute according to instructions given and will be replaced by robots at some not so distant future. Nearly everyone could do this job.

Caring jobs though (and nursing, teaching etc) are totally different, I fully agree with previous posters, this level of pay is shambolic

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Merrymouse · 07/02/2024 15:15

Shelf stackers - not at all, they only execute according to instructions given and will be replaced by robots at some not so distant future. Nearly everyone could do this job.

Not to undermine the importance of the sales and marketing manager, but during Covid shelf stackers in my village made a huge difference to my life, because they literally made sure I had food, and they I’m sure that for many they were the closest form of human contact.

The human presence of people working in shops makes a big difference to the community.

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toomuchfaff · 07/02/2024 15:18

They are poorly paid because they don't generate revenue... nothing to do with being female or anything; they don't make any money.

Even in private corporations, jobs that generate revenue earn more than those that don't, those that are "operational expenditure" vs Sales for instance have wildy different renumeration packages.

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Jellycatspyjamas · 07/02/2024 15:42

(and I daresay would get up at 3am if a client called in a desperate state)

I would sincerely hope not, caring doesn’t mean being ever available. Managing professional boundaries is especially important in a job where you could literally work 24/7 and still not be done.

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Nellodee · 07/02/2024 17:42

A well educated workforce generates more income. A healthy workforce costs less in disability benefits and generates more income. A minimal prison population costs less and earns more. An fast, effective immigration system means lower costs in housing asylum seekers.

Spending as little as possible on public services does not necessarily reduce the tax burden and could quite easily increase it. In many cases, it’s false economy.

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Echobelly · 07/02/2024 17:46

There is no fucking way a nurse should be paid less (and it's a lot less) than me, for example. I just edit stuff, copy and paste things into templates and do a bit of admin and comms for a big business and I can work 9-5 and not think about it when I'm not working. Nurses work ludicrous hours, people's lives literally depend on them, it's emotionally and physically exhausting.

But of course nursing is seen as a 'woman's job' and thus a 'calling' and nurses are 'angels', so they don't need money. 🙄

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