Scottish Government have announced their support for the delivery of the Living Hours accreditation programme through Living Wage Scotland at the Poverty Alliance.
Living Hours accreditation was launched by the Living Wage Foundation in 2019, and Scotland is already home to three of the five UK Living Hours accredited employers: SSE, abrdn and 1st Alliance Credit Union.
The programme builds on the existing Living Wage employer accreditation, offering security of hours and contracts alongside a real Living Wage. Living Wage Scotland are now delivering the programme in Scotland with Scottish Government support, to work with Scottish-based employers on implementing the Living Hours standards.
Employers who join the scheme commit to providing at least 4 weeks’ notice for every shift, with guaranteed payment if shifts are cancelled within this notice period. They also provide a guaranteed minimum of 16 working hours every week (unless the worker requests otherwise), and a contract that accurately reflects hours worked. These measures offer better security of contracts and hours, alongside a real Living Wage.
While payment of the real Living Wage remains a fundamental part of the solution to in-work poverty, the shape of low-paid work has changed. The other side of the coin is the rise in insecure work which disproportionately affects our lowest paid workers in industries such as retail, health and social care. Research from the Living Wage Foundation recently concluded that 11% of workers in Scotland are in insecure work and paid below the Living Wage- approximately 300,000 workers.
Living Wage Scotland marked the milestone of 2000 Living Wage employers in Scotland in July, and more than 46,000 workers in Scotland have received a pay rise to the real Living Wage as a result of accreditation – equivalent to more than £240million of extra wages.
Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance said: “With support from Scottish Government, the Poverty Alliance launched Living Wage Scotland in 2014, when there were less than 20 accredited Living Wage employers in Scotland, there are now over 2000. Living Wage accreditation has already delivered a pay increase to more than 46000 workers in Scotland. Living Hours accreditation is a programme that can make a significant impact on the experience of workers trapped in insecure work and will be an important element in the drive to creating a just labour market in Scotland”.
John Stewart, SSE HR Director, said: “The real Living Wage movement has been an incredible phenomenon, championing the fundamental truth that people should be able earn enough to live a decent life. Living Hours is the other side of that coin. The amount of pay employees take home can be affected by irregular and unpredictable hours.
The majority of our direct employees are already on contracts which meet the Living Hours requirements, but it is right that a company like SSE should guarantee higher standards for workers. This is fundamental to ensuring there is a fair and just transition to net zero.
An important impact of Living Hours is that, in time, it will flow through our supply chain activities and benefit those working regularly on our behalf too. It is the right thing to do and we are very proud to have achieved this accreditation and hope it will help show others the way.”
Meredith Adams, Social Impact Manager at abrdn said: “Being paid a Living Wage is so important but it’s just the start. Research shows there are millions of people in the UK who despite being in work, don’t have the job and wage security they need. Living Hours goes beyond base pay to give workers security of hours and working patterns. This is so important to give people financial security, as well as the ability to plan and manage their work-life balance.
We were proud to become one of the first two Living Hours accredited companies and helped to design the accreditation. This was the logical next step for us after becoming a Living Wage employer in 2014 and we hope to use our influence to encourage other organisations to get involved.”
Christine McCaig, Living Wage Projects Coordinator said: “Living Wage Scotland are working alongside Living Hours accredited employers, to learn more about their journey and the impact this accreditation has had on their business and workers. With funding from the Scottish Government, we look forward to engaging with more employers in Scotland to explore Living Hours alongside the real Living Wage to ensure that more workers achieve financial stability at a time when they need it most.”