Voluntary sector pay has risen steadily over the past 20 years with "mixed and intermittent evidence of a third sector wage discount", an academic study has found.
The findings are contained in a literature review of pay in the voluntary, public and private sectors, undertaken by the Third Sector Research Centre.
The literature review took in a range of previous academic studies in an attempt to compare and contrast conditions for workers across sectors.
The review says: "Recent studies in the UK have highlighted a steady increase in earnings for the third sector’s workforce over the past 20 years with mixed and intermittent evidence of a third sector wage discount."
The study found that men worked for about 12.5 per cent less pay in the voluntary sector than in the private sector, while for women "there was no significant voluntary sector wage discount".
There was also a gender pay gap of 10 per cent in the voluntary sector, compared with 19 per cent in the public sector and 35 per cent in the private sector, the study said.
The study found 16.8 per cent of voluntary sector employees were earning the minimum wage or less, compared with 20.2 per cent in the private sector and 6.3 per cent in the public sector.
But when it broke down the findings the study showed that, for men, the probability of being low paid was about the same in the private and voluntary sectors, which were both higher than the public sector. But it found that women working in the private sector were more likely to be low paid. "Conversely, a women working in the private sector has a one in three chance of being low paid compared to a women working in the third sector who has only a one in six chance," the study concludes.
The review also looks at the qualifications of workers across all three sectors and found that the voluntary sector had the highest proportion of workers who are low paid in their qualification group.