The Living Wage – what is it and why should we bother?

Written by Rebecca O'Connor on 7th Jan 2016

Ecology Building Society announced today that it has become accredited as a Living Wage employer.

What this means is that it must pay all staff the official Living Wage of £8.25 an hour (which it was already doing) rather than the £6.70 an hour legal minimum wage set by the Government. It’s higher than the Government’s official living wage of £7.20, due to be introduced in April this year.)

For customers, it is further reassurance that the society is a good egg, with goals other than profit at heart.

Paul Ellis, chief executive of Ecology, which lends on energy efficient buildings, highlights that paying the Living Wage is actually good for profits in the long run, because: “fair pay helps us reap business benefits such as lower staff turnover and improved customer satisfaction.”

In other words, if the staff are happy, the business is more profitable and customers are happy. A virtuous circle of contentedness.

The company also limits maximum salaries to a ratio of the lowest salary in the organisation, which means the highest paid person can never be paid more than a given multiple of the lowest.

Sarah Vero, director of the Living Wage Foundation says:  “The best employers are voluntarily signing up to pay the Living Wage. The Living Wage reflects the real cost of living, and we want to ensure as many people as possible are assured a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”

National Express and National Grid are other recent signatories to the voluntary scheme, which reflects the true cost of the minimum acceptable standard of living, as calculated by the Social Policy department at the University of Loughborough. (in London, the Living Wage is higher, at £9.40 an hour).

Why is the Foundation’s Living Wage higher than the Government’s? The Government’s lower calculation is not linked to living costs. Go figure.

For more on the Living Wage, visit the Foundation’s website here.


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