This year, the Living Wage Foundation is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Living Wage movement. We’re proud to be part of this movement as an accredited employer.
Being accredited by the Foundation means that we have voluntarily made a commitment to pay all staff the living wage, set each year by the Living Wage Foundation. This year, the UK Government did raise the UK legal minimum wage – which they have branded as the ‘National Living Wage’ – to £8.91 (for those over 23), rising to £9.50 per hour from April 2022.
This is a significant increase on previous years and will go some way to easing the pressure for many, however, this still falls short of the cost of living. The new figures set independently and released today by the Living Wage Foundation, will ensure that 300,000 people will benefit from a vital pay boost, with the 2021 figures set as £9.90 per hour nationally and £11.05 per hour in London.
For us, as a London based business, that means that we would never pay an employee less than about £20,000 per year, full time. Some people may question whether this is relevant to a company like ours in the web industry, which is a highly skilled sector and naturally attracts higher salaries. However, although it is true that all of our current team members earn significantly more than the London living wage, I still believe strongly that it does matter.
Firstly, it would be naïve to assume that web design and development companies never employ staff with salaries below the living wage. All businesses need a range of skills and in our industry, it is common to employ interns and entry level positions on low wages, and in some cases to not pay interns at all.
Secondly, it’s important that employers take a clear position and make a stand for fair wages when the government is not doing enough. By supporting the Living Wage Campaign, we’re helping to put pressure on other employers and on the government to follow suit.
The problem with the UK minimum wage is that it is set arbitrarily and doesn’t actually take into account the real (and rising) cost of living. This means that workers can often end up claiming benefits despite being in full time work, meaning that the taxpayer is effectively subsidising the employer’s business. It means that many people have to work multiple jobs, giving them less time with their families, lowering their quality of life, making them less productive at work and reducing damaging their physical and mental health. Not just that, but low income workers are increasingly having to live further and further out of the cities that they work in, meaning that they spend more time travelling, which exhausts them even more, stretches the capacity of our transport systems and increases travel emissions.
It seems logical that the minimum full time wage should not be less than the amount required to live in the city of employment. The living wage is a win-win-win for the employee, the employer and for society.
Learn more at livingwage.org.uk.