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Renfrewshire Council makes Living Wage Week appeal

Renfrewshire Council is marking Living Wage Week by calling on all employers in the area to make sure they pay every worker enough to get by.

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Image: (Left to Right) Alan Watson of ChemTech Consultancy, Deputy Leader of the Council Mike Holmes, and Stuart Boyd of Willis Safety gather in Paisley to appeal for more employers to join those already paying all their staff at least the Living Wage.  

The real Living Wage is independently calculated based on what employees and their families need to make ends meet.

Most people who experience poverty in Scotland are in employment, meaning the Living Wage provides a vital hand-up for the lowest paid.

As an accredited Living Wage employer Renfrewshire Council currently pays every member of staff aged over 18 at least £8.25 per hour – and that will rise to £8.45 per hour from 1 May 2017.

Councillor Mike Holmes, the deputy leader of the council, joined local businesses leaders who ensure their workers also get fair pay.

Together with Alan Watson, of legionella control specialists ChemTech Consultancy, and Stuart Boyd of personal protective equipment suppliers Willis Safety, he urged other employers to see the benefits paying the Living Wage offers both businesses and their staff.

Cllr Holmes said: “The sad reality is working families all-too-often have to turn to food banks or take on unsustainable debt just to get by.

“Renfrewshire Council is proud to be an accredited Living Wage employer because it is right that workers always get fair pay that meets life’s essential costs.

“Our council was one of the first authorities in Scotland to make this pledge and I am delighted to be joined by responsible employers who share that commitment to their own staff.”

He continued: “There can be no doubt that we are leading the way in helping people out of poverty.

“Over the past four years our Invest in Renfrewshire scheme has created 1,000 new jobs and slashed youth unemployment, and our Tackling Poverty Fund spearheads innovative projects that make a real difference to people’s lives.

“Sadly many working people still experience poverty, so we want every business in Renfrewshire to join us in paying at least the Living Wage.

“It’s important everyone realise that this is not only the right thing to do by staff, but there are also real benefits to employers who take this step.”

Independent research found 80 per cent of employers paying the Living Wage believe it enhanced the quality of their staff’s work.

The study also revealed that introducing the Living Wage saw staff absences fall by a quarter, while two-thirds of employers reported a significant benefit in their recruitment and retention of employees.

An incredible 70 per cent of Living Wage employers felt the move had increased consumer awareness of their organisation’s commitment to being an ethical employer.

The research also identified improved loyalty and customer service, resulting in fewer complaints.

Paisley company ChemTech Consultancy’s director Alan Watson commented: “We care about our employees and feel strongly that everyone deserves to be paid a wage that allows them to make ends meet.

“Taking the decision to pay at least the Living Wage gave ChemTech staff financial security. That makes a huge difference to them and it also has real advantages for us as an employer.

“Our people are a valuable asset – we want to keep them. We want to invest in our staff both through training and paying fair wages to ensure they grow and develop with us as an organisation.”

The Living Wage is calculated each November and takes into account an analysis of the actual cost of living.

This includes essential things like rent, council tax, and childcare and transport costs.

Stuart Boyd, director of Hillington-based Willis Safety, said: “As a responsible business we want to do right by the people who work for us and becoming a Living Wage employer showed our commitment to every member of our team.

“It’s only fair that workers know their wages will meet life’s essential costs, and having that peace of mind means people are much more able to focus on the demands of their role.

“Service is at the very core of everything Willis Safety does and, in return for paying the real Living Wage, we get the loyal and committed workforce that is absolutely crucial to delivering the quality standards our customers expect.”

To become accredited an employer must confirm that all directly employed staff over the age of 18 are paid at least the Living Wage.

The employer must also have a plan in place for any contractors’ staff who regularly provide the company with services.

Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “Business by business and organisation by organisation, our employers are voluntarily choosing to close the pay gap in the UK between what people need to live on and the government minimum that every employer has to pay.

“Today’s increase in the real Living Wage will mean thousands of employees around the country will get a much needed increase to their pay packet to help them meet the cost of living.

“That’s the difference paying the real Living Wage makes. During Living Wage Week we celebrate the leadership of those great Living Wage employers who make this possible.”

More information on the Living Wage and on becoming an accredited Living Wage employer is available from the Scottish Living Wage Foundation at www.scottishlivingwage.org.