Wholegrain Digital is an accredited employer of the Living Wage Foundation. This means that we have voluntarily made a commitment to pay all staff the living wage set each year by the Living Wage Foundation. The UK legal minimum wage is now £7.70 an hour, and although the government tried to re-brand this as a “living wage”, it falls short of the figure set independently by the Living Wage Foundation, which is now £9.30 per hour nationally and £10.75 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 have questioned 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 staff 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 current minimum wage is that it is set arbitrarily and doesn’t actually take into account the 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.
Find out more at livingwage.org.uk.