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The UK’s Most Abused Professions – And How Little They Pay

The UK’s most abused workers are facing the double whammy of suffering some of the nation’s lowest salaries, as well as the highest levels of violence at work, according to new research by job search-engine Adzuna.

The study, which draws on government stats on violence at work*, analysed Adzuna’s live job market data to reveal the average pay on offer in the UK’s most abused professions, asking if workers in these industries receive pay that reflects the risks involved in their roles.


Police Officers Deal With the Most Assaults

Police Officers and Security Guards endure the highest levels of violence at work. Nearly 1 in 10 workers (9.2%) employed in ‘Protective service occupations’ (which includes both of these job roles) experienced violence at work over the two year period analysed, with 8% experiencing assault.

Not only this, the pay on offer for these job types falls far below the UK average salary of £34,116. Average advertised pay for Police Officers currently sits at £21,314 and Security Guards just £18,885 per annum, showing there is no financial reward for the risks these roles involve: workers are suffering both high risk and low pay.

Carers Are Not Being Cared For

‘Health & social care professionals’ face the second highest risk of violence at work, with 6.1% of workers in this area subjected to assault or threatening behaviour over the two years. This category includes job roles such as Nurses and Care Workers, and while Nurses receive slightly above average compensation of £34,751, Care Workers are typically paid just £18,142 a year, highlighting a lack of appreciation of the risks involved in their day-to-day responsibilities.

Other healthcare professionals are also suffering, although on the surface they appear better paid: Accident & Emergency Nurses receive £49,926 on average, while Social Workers get £46,164 a year. However, these figures are skewed by a high proportion of ‘locum’ temporary positions offering high hourly rates of pay, with average salaries for permanent positions much lower.

Workers in the Transport sector also face high risk of abuse, with 1 in 50 reporting violence at work in the last year, including 1.9% reporting being threatened and 0.9% assaulted. Despite these risks, Bus Drivers are paid an average of just £21,165 a year, while train station Gateline Assistants receive just £17,992.

Pay Packets Don’t Match The Risk

Overall, 12 of the 15 job roles Adzuna identified as ‘high risk’ have typical pay levels below the average UK salary, showing a widespread trend for poor remuneration in dangerous roles.

Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, comments: “Every abused industry should strive to improve support for their employees with proper training and by putting in place procedures to deal with abuse. There also needs to be salary correction in some of these risky roles, to reflect the day-to-day dangers facing employees. Otherwise, the staffing shortages seen in some areas could quickly spread into other industries.”

Table 1: Pay in Most Abused Professions

Job Average salary
Security Guard £18,885
Police Officer £21,314
Nurse £34,751
Accident & Emergency Nurse £49,926
Social Worker £46,164
Care Worker £18,142
Bus Driver £21,165
Gate line Assistant £17,992
Teacher £31,094
Retail Assistant £18,174
Car Park Attendant £15,899
Civil Enforcement £17,772
Enforcement Agent £33,594
Cleaner £16,393
Waiter/Waitress £17,802

*Data on violence at work taken from 2016/2017 Crime Survey for England & Wales:

Waiter Jobs in UK                                         Jobs with TfL
Teaching Jobs in UK                                     Cleaning Jobs in UK
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