Living wage gains momentum

Luton Football Club, OCS Group, Santander and Sundial Group are among the growing number of employers that committed to pay the living wage for staff in April 2015.

Pay day wages

And on 26 March 2015, all Premier League football clubs agreed to commit to paying their full-time staff the living wage by the start of the 2016–17 season.

At present, only Chelsea Football Club is an accredited living wage employer.

Currently, the UK living wage is set at £7.85 an hour, while the London living wage is set at £9.15 an hour.

The 1,300 employers that have so far signed up to pay the living wage for staff recognise that doing so makes good business sense, as well as being perceived as the right thing to do.

Donald Hirsch, director of the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, said: “The idea of a living wage highlights the fact that about one in five workers in the UK are earning less than the wage needed to reach a basic minimum living standard.

“Many employers are taking the moral position that all wages should be at least at this level, and well-endowed organisations such as Premier League [football] clubs are in a good position to take a lead.”

Research published by Nationwide Building Society last month, which surveyed more than 1,500 people, found that 87% think employers that can afford to pay the living wage should do so. A further 75% believe employers should be required to reveal whether their staff are paid the living wage.

But with only 20 of the FTSE 100 currently accredited as living wage employers, more could still be done to get organisations on board.

Brent Council and the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council have gone some way to help by offering local firms a discount on business rates if they pay staff the London living wage.

It worked for Greenwich firm Martin Arnold, which signed up in February.

However, the ongoing living wage campaign came under fire from Next chief executive Lord Wolfson in March.

He said that the living wage was “irrelevant, an invention [and] not a reality” and that the £6.70 minimum wage was “enough to live on”. But despite his views on this, he gave up his bonus to give Next employees a pay rise.

Employers that pay the living wage may also find it results in business benefits, such as reducing absenteeism and staff turnover, and better staff engagement and productivity.

Guy Stallard, a member of the Living Wage Foundation board and head of facilities at KPMG, said: “The concept behind it is the fact that organisations should not have people working for them that do not earn enough. That is how it all started. It is a fact that if we pay people fairly, they are more engaged.

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“The facilities sector has proven that, with client engagement and productivity higher on living wage accounts. It is the ethics of business.

“Soon more than 25% of the FTSE100 will be signed up.”