Approximately one-fifth of the Scottish population earns below the national living wage, according to a study published by KPMG UK.
However, the study also showed that Scotland has one of the lowest proportions of workers being paid below this rate, at three per cent less than the UK average.
Scotland’s median hourly wage is also 15 pence higher than the UK average.
Since last year, the median wage per hour has grown 1.5 per cent, whereas the median wage of the UK has only grown 0.2 per cent.
Scotland is also one of the top three most successful regions of the UK in number of citizens being paid the currently defined living wage, £8.25 an hour or more, according to the study.
Despite the overall wage gains, MSPs have raised concerns about the proportion earning below the living wage, pledging to take action to improve the lives of the working class.
Neil Findley, Scottish Labour Party MSP for Lothian, told Edinburgh Evening News: “This is thousands of people having to exist on poverty pay, often with job insecurity and zero-hours contracts, which mean people don’t know whether they are going to get work or not.
“It has a huge impact on quality of life. We live in a prosperous country and we need to use every opportunity we can in the Scottish Parliament to extend the living wage.” The idea of the living wage dates back to 2001 and is set each year to reflect the ‘minimum socially acceptable standard of living.’”
Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green Party MSP for Lothian, agreed, telling Edinburgh Evening News: “The reality for far too many people is that wages have stagnated and the jobs market has become insecure.
“We need to get the minimum wage up to a living wage and for that to rise to give people a decent standard of living. The fact that half of those in poverty are actually in work is shocking.”
The Scottish Business Pledge, an initiative by The Living Wage Foundation in partnership with the Poverty Alliance, has been adopted to encourage large-scale companies and firms across the UK to pay their employees the living wage.
So far, 380 Scottish Firms have joined the initiative. The University of Glasgow is the newest ‘Living Wage Employer’ to join the initiative.
Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “We’re proud to confirm our commitment to the Living Wage and the Scottish Business Pledge.
“They form an important part of our ongoing actions to improve the working lives of our staff, who play such a vital role in making the University the inspiring place it is.”