Paramount 21 becomes living wage employer

Devon, UK-based frozen food business Paramount 21 has become a Living Wage Foundation accredited employer.

Based on the Heathfield industrial estate at its Newton Abbot site, the family-owned organisation increased its pay for staff to the £9.50 per hour real living wage, which is higher than the UK government’s minimum of £8.91 per hour for people over the age of 23.

In the south west of England, more than a fifth of all jobs pay less than the real living wage, which works out at around 456,000 roles. Despite this, Paramount 21 has committed to pay staff the higher rate in order to deliver “a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work”.

According to the company, becoming a living wage employer will have an “overwhelmingly positive” impact on employee engagement, reflecting the Foundation statistic that more than 75% of employers reported increased motivation and employee retention after receiving accreditation.

In addition to the pay rise, Paramount is expanding its production capabilities to match the increase in demand and has £650,000 of capital expenditure planned this year.

The organisation’s founder and chairman Ali Hannaford explained that it has always been of “paramount importance” to her and the team that each and every member of staff feel valued, as Paramount’s board had been discussing a pay rise for some time but felt that now was the right time.

“The pandemic has shown everyone how volatile business and life can be, and the way we all pulled together through the most challenging of times was truly heart-warming. A big thank you to everyone for all of their hard work and continued efforts. We really do have a very special team,” she said.

Laura Gardiner, director of the Foundation, added that the team is “delighted” that Paramount has joined more than 7,000 responsible employers across the UK to voluntarily commit to go further than the government minimum to make sure all their staff earn enough to live on.