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Good for People and good for business: Paying the real Living Wage is the right thing to do.

Kim Healey, People Director at one of only six Living Wage accredited football clubs in the Premier League, Everton FC, on why HR professionals should consider paying a real Living Wage as a key part of any HR strategy.

As rising living costs fill our headlines, the need to be paid a wage based on the real cost of living is increasingly urgent for workers. And at a time when so many are re-evaluating the way they live and work, there’s never been a better opportunity for HR professionals to recognise that paying the real Living Wage is good for the welfare of businesses, as well as that of employees. 

The real Living Wage – the only independently calculated wage rate based on everyday needs – increased this week to £9.90 in the UK and £11.05 in London. It is different from the government’s ‘National Living Wage’, which rises to £9.50 from April 2022 and is set at a proportion of average national income rather than living costs. The real Living wage is also paid voluntarily to all directly employed and sub-contracted staff by a movement of nearly 9,000 employers across the UK, having accredited with the Living Wage Foundation.

Having been at Everton since the start of our Living Wage journey, I’ve seen the benefits that accrediting with the Living Wage Foundation can offer first-hand. According to Cardiff Business School’s a survey of thousands of Living Wage Employers, an overwhelming 85% found that paying the higher rate to their lowest paid staff improved their reputation as responsible employers – Everton’s experienced has mirrored this trend. As a result of our accreditation, we received national recognition for our ethical employment practices when Everton was included in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For 2018 (a status we have retained in each of the years since) and received an accreditation from Best Companies.

In addition to its reputational benefits, paying the Living Wage has also formed an important part of our wider People strategy. As with all HR teams, one of our key aims has been to unite the organisation so that we can push forwards towards a shared vision, together. To that end, not only does paying a wage designed to cover everyday needs ensure that staff at the bottom end of our pay scale feel valued and cared for by their employer, the Living Wage embeds the ethical practices of our Club in the local community, as 75 percent of staff make their homes in the local area. There are few measures better for team cohesion that making sure that workers and their families can meet their everyday needs.

It should be unsurprising that nearly 2/3rds of Living Wage Employers report improved retention rates as a consequence of paying the real Living Wage. Life on low pay is hard, as polling by the Living Wage Foundation makes shockingly clear. 46 percent of full-time workers earning below the real Living Wage say their low pay negatively impacts their levels of anxiety, while 29 percent are falling behind on their bills. Low pay also harms entire families, with over a quarter (27 percent) of parents working full time earning below the Living Wage forced to skip meals due to financial constraints. Why stick around for an employer that isn’t paying you what you need to get by?

The statistics are clear. Not only is paying the Living Wage is the right thing to do for workers and society, being a Living Wage Employer is an asset to any organisation. From reputation to retention rates, from worker satisfaction to security, the Living Wage helps employers thrive. Not accredited? Why not take the first step on your Living Wage journey, and become a Living Wage Employer today

23rd November 2021
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