“A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.” This was the simple, yet ground-breaking idea that the Living Wage Campaign was built upon. At the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter, we have identified paying or working toward paying the real living wage as a core characteristic of good employment. With this in mind, we partnered with GM Living Wage Campaign to put on a Supporters’ Network event exploring the real living wage. To engage with our Supporters on the significance of paying the real living wage, we invited John Hacking from GM Living Wage Campaign, Chris Smallwood from Anchor Removals, and Martha Crawford from the Living Wage Foundation.
The real living wage is different from the government’s minimum wage and national living wage, in that it aims to pay workers an hourly rate that reflects the true cost of living and was just increased for £9.30/hr. John Hacking from GM Living Wage Campaign demonstrated that there is a real problem with low pay and inequality across the city-region in Greater Manchester. According to the most recent data, 23% of employee jobs in GM, which is equivalent to 265,000 people, were being paid below the real living wage (data from April 2017). Three sectors where low pay is most prevalent, across all boroughs in GM, are retail, hospitality, and care. Women and those with fewer qualifications make up a large proportion of the people in low paid work.
While these statistics are disheartening to hear, John encouraged us that positive change can and does happen, noting that there has been a significant increase in GM employers getting the living wage accreditation. Organisations such as the GM Living Wage Campaign and the Living Wage Foundation are working to target largely affected sectors and continue to drive up the number of accredited employers in GM. John urged Supporters that getting accreditation with the Living Wage Foundation is, “The best and easiest way for employers to demonstrate that they are committed to paying the real living wage.” John Hacking’s slides can be found below.
Chris Smallwood, Director at Anchor Removals, spoke to Supporters about his experience as a living wage accredited employer. Anyone who works at Anchor Removals, a furniture removal, moving and storage company based in Manchester, is no stranger to a hard day’s work. Chris believes this is precisely why they deserve a fair day’s pay. While competitors may look to cut corners to save on costs, Chris has evidence that customers are willing to pay a little more to use Anchor Removals because of their ethics and values, one of which is being a real living wage employer.
In addition to a multitude of other benefits the company has received from paying the real living wage, they have seen an increase in retention which has led to a reduction in costs associated with training, induction and recruitment. In fact, profit is up due to the great work the employees are doing, making it clear that the business case for paying the real living wage is just as strong as the moral one. Chris closed by asking other employers to consider, “How far are you from paying the real living wage? You are closer than you think.” To see Chris speak on BBC Breakfast about his experience as an accredited Living Wage employer, click here.
Martha Crawford from the Living Wage Foundation joined the discussion to highlight the business case for paying the real living wage, stating that 93% of companies reported they had gained as a business after becoming a real living wage employer. In addition, they found it helped to improve their business reputation, increase motivation and retention among employees, and differentiate themselves within their industry. Employers are experiencing tangible and measurable benefits from paying the real living wage. BrewDog is an example of this, the employer makes and sells craft beer throughout the UK and since becoming accredited with the Living Wage Foundation has seen immense results, employee satisfaction increased by 50% while staff turnover fell by 40%. For the full case study on BrewDog, click here.
Getting accredited with the Living Wage Foundation shows a long-term commitment to providing employees with the income they need to meet the basic cost of living. Accreditation is a visible commitment to your staff and customers, and will help to drive others in your sector in the same direction – it is the mark of a responsible employer. The Living Wage Foundation is here to help employers with their journey. To learn more about the real living wage, go to https://www.livingwage.org.uk/what-real-living-wage and to find out how to sign up as a living wage employer visit https://www.livingwage.org.uk/become-a-living-wage-employer.