Yesterday, as part of Living Wage Week, the Living Wage Foundation – group of businesses, individuals and people campaigning for better minimum pay – held an event at the British Library where the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced that the new National Living Wage would be going up by 50p to £9.75 in London and up by 20p to £8.45 in the rest of the UK.
What does this mean? Well, if you’re on minimum wage, live in London and work for a Living Wage employer (that is, an employer who has agreed to pay you a minimum hourly rate as set by the Living Wage Foundation) you’ll be earning £2.80/hour more than if you were on the National Minimum Wage (NMW). In the rest of the UK, you’ll be receiving an extra £1.50. This is quite a difference when we expect the cost of living to go up because of Brexit – we only need to think of Marmite gate.
Sadiq Khan expressed his support for the Living Wage, and its impact in helping to create a more equal city that works for all Londoners – a city where one in every eight households spend half of their income on rent.
The Living Wage Foundation has some big names supporting it, including KPMG who is a principal partner and Aviva who sponsored the event. Indeed, it seems that it is some of these larger employers that are the trailblazers when it comes to the Living Wage. Aviva, for example, promotes the Living Wage across its supply chain, taking into account and encouraging both those that provide services for them and those they provide services to, to become Living Wage employers. Taking a different approach, KPMG give their employees time off to volunteer with the Living Wage Foundation, as well as supporting their communications and sponsoring events. The Living Wage campaign, which is how its advocates refer to it, is beginning to have an impact. In London alone, there are 1,000 accredited Living Wage employers, making up one third of all members in the UK.
PLMR is a Living Wage employer – and in fact, we’re one of the few employers in the PR and public affairs space who pay our interns a Living Wage – and to me, it just makes sense. How can you have a full time job – and in many instances work for a big successful organisation/ well know brand – and still find that you struggle to make your salary last until the end of the month? I can’t speak for other parts of the country but if you live in London, it’s hard to imagine how you could live well on £7.20 an hour if you’re over 25, or £6.70 if you’re 21- 25 or worse, on £5.55 if you’re 18-20. When a Zone 1-4 monthly travel card costs £178 – and many people on minimum wage do not have the luxury of living in central London – you’re already looking at spending 15% of your salary on travel alone. Never mind the outrageous London rent prices, the cost of keeping the heating on during winter or having a whole family to feed and clothed.
Employers who can afford to, should offer the Living Wage because it’s the right thing to do. It also comes with real benefits because nothing says better to an employee that they are valued than decent, fair pay. Living Wage employers reported improvements in the quality of work of their staff as well as reductions in staff absence and turnover and a better strong corporate reputation. In London for example, Living Wage employers reported a 25% reduction in staff turnover and across the country, 80% reported improvements in staff performance – which I imagine is just as much related to them being valued and valuing their jobs as a true opportunity to living a decent life than about money. For those companies that can afford it, it should really be a no brainer, and for those on a Living Wage, the Mayor’s announcement will be welcome – every little helps.