Meet Milnbank Housing Association - Living Wage Employer

Meet Milnbank Housing Association - Living Wage Employer

Right to left: Dionne McNally, Linda Sichi, Lauren White, Craig Brown, Andrew Honest & Bailie Elaine McDougall.

Based in Dennistoun in the east end of Glasgow, Milnbank Housing Association is a not-for-profit organisation, registered charity and manager of over 2.5k units of housing stock. They are one of the original community controlled Housing Associations, and will celebrate their 40th anniversary next year.

Linda Sichi, Milnbank’s Depute Director explains why Milnbank Housing Association decided to become a Living Wage Employer:

As part of our staff appraisals each year, we pull together all the feedback we get from our 94 employees and we also look at the organisational structure and HR issues like salaries. We’ve always paid more than the National Minimum Wage and found that in fact most of our employees were above the Living Wage too. However we realised that there were a handful of employees, particularly our younger employees, who perhaps came in as trainees, who were getting less than the Living Wage and we thought “let’s take them to at least the Living Wage”.

We felt that was the right thing to do.

What was involved in the process of implementing the Living Wage for staff?

First we worked out how much it would cost the organisation- because obviously, it’s not just for one year, it’s for cumulative years. We took the proposal to our Management Committee and they agreed.

We also considered the impact on existing staff who were on the next pay scale up from the staff who would see a wage increase as a result of implementing the Living Wage. For a few lower grade staff, that meant a slight pay increase too, to do a parity type thing.

What’s been your view on the Living Wage?

I think if a business can afford it- I appreciate it’s not affordable to everybody- but I do think that it’s something that a business should strive towards. If you can say that you’re a Living Wage Employer, then people coming to you knowing that you’re going to be paying a fair wage. Also, because the rate of the Living Wage is reviewed each year, then you’re signed up to a scheme where you’re going to get salary increases and, particularly younger people, might not get that in another company.

Hi, Dionne. What is your role at Milnbank Housing Association?

I’m a Customer Services Assistant. I work at the main reception so I deal with the tenants, owners and other customers that come in, handle phone calls, frank mail, handle enquiries from other staff members in the office and other various tasks round about the office.

What did you do, before you joined Milnbank?

I was at school. When I left school, I came to work here on a 1 year Modern Apprenticeship. After that, I got a permanent contract of employment. Because Milnbank are a community controlled Housing Association, they often go into schools and ask about any pupils that might be interested in working here, so I came in through that Modern Apprentice scheme.

What difference has the Living Wage made to your income?

Well when I first started I was on the lowest salary point, because obviously I was just starting. Getting the Living Wage meant I went up from point 1 to point 4 on the salary scale.

Did you notice a difference then?

Aye, definitely! [laughs]

Since I’ve had the difference I’ve been able to go on holiday. I’ve been able to pay to put a car on the road. So it’s been a big help, definitely.

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