This week is Living Wage week, and to coincide with that here’s our (much delayed) next instalment in our post-COVID manifestos: #4 – we should all pay a real Living Wage.
Something that every single organisation should do – whether they’re in the private, public or third sector – is pay at least a real Living Wage to everyone that works for them.
We need to make paying a real Living Wage as standard – if we aren’t all doing that then it means the state is having to subsidise our payrolls by having to support workers directly through the social security system to meet their basic daily needs. As well as just being wrong in exploiting people by paying less than it costs them to live, it’s just not a sustainable economic model more generally.
Hourly rates of pay should be sufficient for workers to be able to cover their living costs and achieve a reasonable standard of living. And it’s not just our own staff where we need to commit to it – we need to drive behaviour change with others too – if we’re engaged in providing funding and/or contract work to third parties then we should make it a requirement that the work that the funding/contract value pays for must pay a real living wage as a contractual obligation.
Ultimately, we’d like to go even further and say that we want to reach a stage where we can all say ‘we won’t work with people at all unless they can demonstrate that they pay at least a real living wage’.
In 2018 we became an accredited Living Wage employer – we’d always paid the real Living Wage, but we thought it important to show through accreditation that we did so, to enshrine that as a formal commitment in our company, and also to become part of the wider Living Wage movement.
It was one of several measures we took before becoming an accredited BCorp.
Somewhat confusingly, the UK Government changed the name of the minimum wage for over 25s a few years ago to call it the National Living Wage, which isn’t the same thing. The real Living Wage is set by the Living Wage Foundation and is calculated (including a separate London weighting) based on the real cost of living. It is annually reviewed and the new rates are announced during Living Wage week in November.
Employers voluntarily pay the real Living Wage and commit to keeping pace with it, putting all employees onto the new annual rate within 6 months of it being announced. At the time of writing over 6,500 of us have pledged to do so, becoming accredited living wage employers.
You can find out more about what the Living Wage is in the video below and if you’re interested in signing up as an accredited Living Wage employer, you can do so via the Living Wage Foundation here: www.livingwage.org.uk
As well as just being the right thing to do anyway, for businesses there are a range of benefits that surveys of Living Wage employers have shown:
Added to the movement is the recent addition of ‘Living Hours’, which is a commitment not only to pay a decent rate of pay per hour, but also to commit to stability for employees – removing zero hours contracts and uncertainty over shift working (there is flexibility to allow employees to specifically requests an opt out for their own reasons e.g. where it’s a second job, or where ad hoc work is desirable to their personal circumstances).
In Wales, we are committed to the Wellbeing of Future Generations through an Act of Government; as part of that we all have a duty to ensure that nobody is exploiting cheap labour on low rates of pay and with low security. These are tough times for us all, and this will be easier for some than others – but ‘it’s too expensive’ isn’t an excuse; it’s too expensive socially and economically not to. In the end, we all benefit from everyone receiving fair pay for their work (nor should this even be a discussion in the 21st Century in one of the world’s richest countries!).
As well as accrediting ourselves as a Living Wage employer here’s what we’ll do to push this forward: we have pledged that we will become a Living Hours employer; we are pushing through various partnerships with Government and other grant giving bodies that we are part of, to weight criteria in awarding grants/contracts to benefit those that make a commitment to paying a living wage and we will start to do the same for a living hours commitment also; and more widely we do our best to champion the real Living Wage wherever we can.
Sign up with the Living Wage Foundation today and join us in the movement!