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British workers spend £5,000 a year on work-related costs

Women's expenses tend to be higher because of expectations surrounding their wardrobes

British workers spend an average of £5,000 per year getting to work and buying work-related items, according to research from national health and safety law consultancy Protecting.co.uk.

The report considered the costs of transport as well as other sundries employees must spend money on, such as haircuts and car parking. New starters were hit particularly hard, especially if coming off benefits, in a part-time position or on a zero-hours contract.

Director of Protecting.co.uk Mark Hall warned this may be locking people out of securing work. "Can you imagine spending £10 to get to work only to be told there's nothing for you when you get there?" he said. "It hardly seems fair, yet this hidden cost of trying to hold down a job is reality for far too many people in the UK.

“That's why – after hearing how much money slips through the fingers of British workers – we put the average cost of holding down a job as £5,000. Some people can afford it, but it's keeping others out of work."

The research also found that expenses for female employees tended to be higher than men's, because they are expected to have a more diverse wardrobe. The average male's clothing expenses were found to be £500, while workplace expectations pushed the average female spend up to £1,500.

Monica Brown, CEO of Dress For Success Greater London (a charity that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women), agreed that women typically feel more pressure than men to spend significant amounts on their work wardrobes.

“This is particularly concerning for women who are coming off benefits and starting a new job,” she told HR magazine. “Dress for Success Greater London provides such clients with a capsule wardrobe that takes them through until their first pay day.

“However, the ongoing additional expense of travel, lunches, hair appointments, make-up and quite often childcare costs add to the financial challenge, with many women struggling to cope.”