Rob’s Reward: Should more employers be encouraged to commit to the living wage?

There is no doubt about it: pay rises and higher salaries motivate many employees. 


And wages are contining to grow even if this is at a slower pace than many may like. In the three months to February 2015, the Office for National Statistics found pay-excluding bonuses to be 1.8% higher than a year earlier.

Further findings from Aon Hewitt’s Global salary increase survey found that in 2015 pay for UK employees will grow by more than 3%.

But pay can be an emotive issue, particularly if staff feel they are being unfairly treated.

Over the past year, we have seen NHS employees, firefighters, ITV employees and Jaguar Land Rover staff, to name but a few, either taking, or being balloted on, strike action over pay. These are tell-tale signs of the situations that can arise if staff do not feel that they are being paid fairly, particularly at the lower end of the pay spectrum.

But what if employers committed to offering more than just above-average increases and setting their lowest hourly wage above the national minimum level? What if they committed to pay the living wage, and, once this has rolled out across their workforce, became an accredited living wage employer by the Living Wage Foundation? 

Evidence published by the Living Wage Foundation in January, based on the findings of four employers paying the living wage, suggests implementing it encourages businesses to re-evaluate approaches to staffing and payment. In doing so, it could also increase staff performance and job satisfaction, which are key to any employer’s business strategy.

Premier League football clubs will help to bring much more limelight on the living wage when all start to pay it from the start of the 2016–17 season.

A number of well-known organisations have already committed to paying the living wage, including Chelsea Football Club, Nestle and Santander.

Sadly, many business that would like to pay the living wage fear they are unable to do so due to the perceived costs associated with this.

While it is still a voluntary initiative, the proposed living wage has also been used as a tactic by politicians to get voters on side in the run-up to the general election on 7 May.

As living costs continue to increase, putting many lower-paid staff under greater pressure to make ends meet, I wonder if we might come to a time when employers that do not pay the living wage are publicly named and shamed as is currently the case for those that fail to meet their minimum wage obligations.

Robert Crawford
Tweet: @RCrawford_EB