November 1, 2013

Raising awareness for the living wage

Despite living extremely busy lives, millions of UK workers don’t earn enough to live on – not enough to feed and clothe their kids, provide power for their homes, and for the other necessities of life.

Shockingly, more than half of the children living in poverty in this country have one or more working parents.

That’s why Archbishop of York John Sentamu, who chairs the Living Wage Commission, said: “Why aren’t those who are profiting from their workers paying up? Why is the Government subsidising businesses which don’t pay their employees enough to live on?” And that’s the coming week is all about.

On 3rd – 9th November, Living Wage Week raised awareness of this, where organisations led and assisted in raising awareness of what it means to be a responsible employer, coinciding with  Monday 4th’s announcement of the new London and UK Living Wage rates.

It’s not a new idea, nor a particularly left-wing political one. While Miliband has promised future subsidies to minimum wage-committed employers of which there are about 300 in the UK today, Prime Minister David Cameron has also described it as “good and attractive idea.” The idea goes back as far as 1894 when Liberal MP, Mark Oldroyd, wrote a detailed paper in support of the idea.

So why aren’t all businesses and HR directors supporting it and why do we remain in a situation whereas the Archbishop points out: “The Living Wage remains a concept: workers need pay, not platitudes”. The most obvious reason is cost.

The Archbishop puts it like this: “In their rush for profit and for high pay at the top, too many companies have forgotten the basic moral imperative that employees be paid enough to live on. How do we resurrect that imperative?” he asks.

We know and have the evidence to prove that investing in people, pay progression and training.

At Moorepay, we are guardedly optimist and take the view of Linda Holbeche – that “a more genuinely mutual employment relationship can emerge from the ashes of economic crisis” and we can “progress towards a more genuinely fair and sustainable, mutually beneficial employment relationship”.

HR professionals should think about promoting a Living Wage as a crucial element in that employment relationship.

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