Furniture production wage rates rose on average by 3.2% in the last 12 months according to a BFM survey of 3741 employees and 24 occupations across England and Wales.

The survey was conducted in November and December 2018 and it showed that skills shortages remained a major issue for the sector.

Sixty-five Percent of companies reported suffering skills shortages and most notable amongst them were upholsterers, sewers, cutters and machinists. In fact, nearly half the sample stated that they had to increase wages in certain occupations to attract candidates. However, while there was evidence of an intention to take on more apprentices, the deficient skills situation was compounded by a ‘lack of suitable candidates’ and a diminishing pool of EU migrant labour.

As for future intentions, more than one third of companies had no plans to award a wage increase this year, with 76% stating that the rise in the National Living

Wage was a major limiting factor. Other major factors influencing the ability to raise wages were the cost of pension auto-enrolment and raw material price increases, as well as in larger companies, the apprentice levy. There were indications too that some companies were moving their award date to April to coincide with the uplift in statutory wages.

The most common standard working week was 39 hours and, typically, employees received 22 of annual holiday.

Occupations covered include: Foremen, Wood Machinists (manual and CNC), Polishers, Frame Makers, Upholsterers, Assemblers, Cabinet Makers, Sewers, Cutters, Cushion Fillers, Labourers, Packers, Drivers, Stores/Warehouse, Maintenance, Quality Controllers, CAD Operators, Divan Makers, Mattress Makers and Product Development. The survey looks separately at those on a basic wage and those that work under payment by results schemes.