WOMEN are bearing the brunt of work poverty and earning less than the living wage in part-time work, a study has warned.

The TUC said most part-time female staff in more than 50 local authority areas were on less than the living wage.

The union organisation has called on employers to tackle the issue.

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It added the Government could make firms winning contracts pay their staff the living wage, which is set at £7.65 an hour and £8.80 in London, compared to the national minimum wage of £6.31.

Frances O'Grady, TUC general secretary said: "The living wage was created so work can provide staff with a basic standard of living, but in many parts of Britain, most women working part-time are way off earning this.

"Women of all ages and skill levels often find themselves trapped in low paid jobs.

"Opening up more senior jobs to part-time working is part of the solution, but we also need to look at why so many jobs in Britain pay so little when employers can easily afford to pay staff more.

"Women would gain most from a greater take-up of the living wage by employers.

"But tackling in-work poverty through better wages for our lowest-paid workers helps everyone in the long run as it would help secure a fair and more sustainable economic recovery."