Ahead of Living Wage Week 2014 (2-8 November), we’d like to talk a bit about the living wage: what it is and what it means to us.
Mustard Tree are happy not only to be Living Wage providers but also to raise awareness of this scheme. It is an important extension of our values, which are based on equality, dignity, and respect. And we also know that many people struggle to make ends meet on minimum wage. The living wage, and other policies that address the issue of low-paid workers, can make employees feel less like commodities as well as being part a positive step in the fight against poverty.
But you might well ask what the living wage is? And how it differs from the national minimum wage, which currently stands at £6.31 an hour and will rise to £6.50 in October?
The living wage is promoted by the Living Wage Foundation, an initiative of Citizens UK, and was launched in 2001 by a group of parents in East London. It is designed to cover the basic costs of living.
What constitutes basic costs of living is obviously slightly different from person to person and place to place, but at present the only distinction is between London and the rest of the country. The LWF’s recommended wage is £7.65, which increases to £8.80 an hour for Londoners. Based on 37.5 hour week, the former makes for a salary of £14,918 before tax while the latter gives £17,160.
Unlike the minimum wage, the living wage is not legally enforceable by the government and is an “informal benchmark”; more something that businesses and organisations can aspire and choose to uphold. While the chancellor sets the minimum wage rates, the living wage is calculated by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University.
You can find a list of Living Wage employers on the Foundation’s website and if you’re a business that isn’t currently paying its staff a living wage you can find details on the site about how to become a Living Wage Employer.
You can also vote in the Living Wage Champions Awards (deadlines close 12th September) for any businesses who you believe have made great contributions to industries and communities by implementing and promoting the living wage. Winners will be announced during this year’s Living Wage Week.
CEO, Adrian Nottingham standing proud with our official Living Wage plaque.
Written by Jamie Faulkner, FireCask.