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Why go the extra mile and get accredited as a Living Wage Employer? Isn’t paying the Living Wage enough?

Posted: 2015-12-08 09:03:22

Why go the extra mile and get accredited as a Living Wage Employer? Isn’t paying the Living Wage enough?


We are quite often asked why an employer should become accredited as a Living Wage Employer. After all, isn't paying the Living Wage the only thing that matters. We would certainly agree that paying the Living Wage is the most important consideration, but there are some important benefits to going that extra mile and becoming formally recognised for paying the Living Wage.

One of the most important reasons we think employers should become accredited is so they can become part of the Living Wage community. The list of employers based in Scotland who have already become accredited is growing steadily and we’ve seen a diverse mix of employers get on board including smaller businesses, charities and some of Scotland’s best known employers such as Heart of Midlothian FC, University of Glasgow and Brewdog. Each time a new employer becomes accredited and adds their name to that list they are flying the flag for the Living Wage (sometimes quite literally) and encouraging other employers to follow their lead. It’s only by getting employers to shout about their own fair pay policy that we can make the Living Wage the norm rather than the exception.

As well as encouraging other employers to pay the Living Wage, there are some concrete benefits of accreditation both for employees and employers. To understand those benefits, you first need to understand the criteria that an employer has to meet in order to become accredited as a Living Wage Employer.

The first part of the criteria requires all directly employed staff to be paid at least the Living Wage. This might seem very straight forward at first, but we’ve spoken to several employers who thought they already met this standard but then after going away and looking at things more carefully realised there were a small number of staff who had been accidentally overlooked and would need to receive salary uplifts.

Secondly, any “contracted out staff” – i.e. anyone else who regularly provides services on the premises – must either be on the Living Wage already, or there must be a plan in place to bring them up to the Living Wage within an agreed timescale. Typically we find this second part of the criteria covers contracted out staff such as cleaners, catering, security and maintenance staff. It’s important to include this part of the criteria, because the companies who provide these services are operating in a very competitive market where success is based on the ability to win contracts. We do, of course, encourage service providers to become accredited in their own right, but we recognise that we also need to get the customers on board and that’s why we ask employers to include their contracted out cleaners, catering staff etc under their own accreditation.

The third and final part of the criteria relates to the uplift in the Living Wage. When an employer signs up to become accredited as a Living Wage Employer they are not just committing to paying the Living Wage today; they are making an ongoing commitment that they will pay the new rate of Living Wage each year. We appreciate that this is a big commitment – employers don’t know what the new rate is going to be until the day it’s announced at the start of Living Wage Week (the first week of November each year) – so we don’t expect accredited employers to implement the new rate overnight. Instead we allow accredited employers a grace period of six months to implement the new Living Wage rate across their whole workforce. This means that accredited employers have until the end of April to introduce the new rate.

Any company that can meet these three criteria can apply for accreditation and receive public recognition for their fair pay policy. With accreditation comes a listing on our website, the right to display the Living Wage Employer Mark and often good PR and publicity as well. We’ve also heard a number of reports from employers who’ve told us that receiving formal accreditation as a Living Wage Employer was great for morale – not just with the staff who received an uplift in their wages but across the organisation as a whole.

In summary, accreditation is good for employees because

  1. it means employers look at the issue very carefully and make sure nobody gets missed out;
  2. it lets us reach the contracted out staff who can be difficult to help without getting the customers on board; and
  3. it represents an on-going commitment to pay the Living Wage as the years go by; not just a commitment to pay the current rate of Living Wage.

At the same time, accreditation is good for employers because

  1. it allows them to make a clear and unambiguous commitment to the Living Wage;
  2. it often gives an added boost to team morale; and
  3. it allows them to receive the public recognition they deserve for paying the Living Wage.

When you also take into account the growing Living Wage community and the way accreditation encourages other employers to pay the Living Wage and make the Living Wage the norm, you have to ask, Living Wage Employer accreditation – what’s not to love?

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