Skip to main content

Minimum Wage and the Legal Profession

Minimum Wage and the Legal Profession

Over the last few months we have posted fairly junior job vacancies for a couple of our member law firms (ie firms who have signed up to TenPercentUnlimited - google for further info). One was for a receptionist at a salary of £13,000 and the other a paralegal for £14,000. We received a couple of responses, one of which is below (and quite fair I thought!):
"I [have] reported you for offering a low salary of £13000 which is under [the] minimum wage. A person who needs to pay rent, transport, food and try to save, will never be able to live a decent human life with that salary. Shame on you for offering slavery! You are disgusting."
I sympathise entirely with this thinking (who on earth can live on £13,000 in London?) and had a look into the regulations in a bit more detail. We often get confused by the hourly rate translating into annual salary levels and as a result thought it might assist to publish our understanding of the figures. Please let us know if we are wrong.
As we understand it the hourly rates are as follows (as at 9th May 2017):
25 years+ = £7.50 per hour
21-24 years = £7.05 per hour
18-20 years = £5.60 per hour
This means that in terms of salary (assuming a 8 hours x 5 day x 52 week year) the minimum wage levels are:
25 years+ = £15,600
21-24 years = £14,664
18-20 years = £11,648
As such the advert for a receptionist at £13,000 was clearly below the level for anyone over the age of 20 years, and in fact by advertising at that level I presume the vacancy demonstrated discrimination on the grounds of age (as the firm would only be able to employ and pay staff under 20 years old at a rate of £13,000 per annum).
From this point onwards we, as a recruitment agency, will be more vigilant for vacancies like this one, but it is quite clear that the thinking amongst some law firms needs to change. £13,000 for a full time receptionist in London (or indeed anywhere else) is way too low for anyone to survive unless they are getting considerable support from state benefits on top.
I had noticed some time ago that there was a charity called The Living Wage Foundation encouraging companies to pay a Living Wage and that this level was higher then the government's definition. For example the charity considers the rate should be £8.45 outside of London. Being that we have a campaign to look at excessive charity pay (see our website and click the charity links) I thought I would have a look at the structure of the Living Wage Foundation. As a charity that campaigns for fair pay for all I would have imagined that the level of remuneration across the charity would be similarly fair and reasonable. Other charities, including Medicins San Frontieres, have policies such as not paying any member of staff more than 3 x the lowest person paid.
Other charities don't pay any staff over £60k even when they have considerable budgets and staffing levels to manage.
However according to the Charity Commission website, the charity running the The Living Wage Foundation, Citizens UK, paid their chief executive between £70 and 80k in 2016 with pension contributions to add to this of £7,473. Assuming a £70k salary, 52 week year and a 40 hour week, this equates to £37.24 per hour including the pension contributions. Is this fair pay, particularly from a charity promoting fair pay?

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database.


Jonathan Fagan said…
Message from one of our candidates:

Dear Jonathan,
I think that your calculation for the minimum wage is wrong. You should include the holidays (28 days including bank holidays). So (52*5-28)= working days that you can multiply by the hours for day.

Best regards


Popular posts from this blog

Overpaid Charity CEOs - top 40 of high paid employees - updated 2022

In 2014, we wrote an article about high pay in the charity sector after the Charity Commission started to require all charities to disclose pay of senior executives earning more than £60,000.    We have updated the list for 2022, with a comparison chart so you can see the difference between 2014 and 2022. We have included the source of the most recent salary levels and the year refers to the accounts year we extracted the salary information from.   2022 Top 40 Chart of High Paying Charities Charity Highest salary Year Consumers’ Association £390k-£400k 2020 MSI Reproductive Choices £240k-£250k 2020 Save the Children International £285k-£300k 2020 Cancer Research UK £240k-£250k 2020 The British Red Cross Society £170k-£180k 2020 Age UK £180k-£190k 2020

What does PQE stand for?

15.08.07 What is PQE, and how important is it to law firms? PQE stands for 'Post-Qualified Experience', and is usually given in years or half years for solicitors and also for legal executives as well. In terms of job advertisements, it was envisaged by various experts on age discrimination that it would no longer be an accepted method of describing vacancies by law firms, as it should not matter how many years experience you have for a post, rather it should be more based on your ability. However since 2006 and the new laws, very little has changed, because in reality solicitors need certain levels of PQE before they can undertake certain tasks. For example, a 1 year PQE solicitor is legally unable to supervise an office - they have to be 3 years PQE before they are allowed to, and also have passed a management course recognised by the Law Society (some solicitors believe the latter to be a simple money spinning operation by various course providers, but I could not poss

What questions are asked in an Investors in People Assessment?

Recently Ten Percent Legal Recruitment was assessed for the investor in people accreditation. We worked very hard on this and spent some time as a company ensuring that all our procedures and policies were in place and that our staff were aware of the various requirements of the Investor in People process. We wondered how the assessment would go and also what the questions were likely to be during the interviews. The assessor was very friendly and explained from the outset what she was wanting to do and we were already aware that we would have thirty minute interviews with the directors and managers and twenty minute interviews with the staff. We also had the Investors in People programme so we were able to look and see what the actual questions would be based on, but there was nowhere to indicate what questions would be asked in the investor in people assessments. So if this helps anyone else, here are the questions we were asked in our investors in people accreditation: The asses