Living Wage Week

The Living Wage

This year, like no other, has brought to light the vast number of workers our daily lives rely upon to keep a sense of health, security and normalcy. From cleaners and security staff to caregivers and other essential workers, each play a vital role in our workplace and wider society. They keep us safe and healthy, and it is only fair they are recognised with a Real Living Wage.

Currently, the government minimum wage is £8.72 per hour (£8.20 for under 25 year olds). In contrast, the Real Living Wage is calculated at £9.50 nationally, and £10.85 for London. This wage is the only rate independently calculated annually, and based on the real cost of living. There is a higher London Living Wage rate because of the higher living costs in the capital.

In 2001, the campaign for a real living wage began when Citizens UK brought together low-paid workers in East London. Many were juggling two or three minimum-wage jobs, but still couldn’t make ends meet. Since then, hundreds of thousands of employees have received a pay rise and over half a billion pounds has gone to low-paid workers. The Living Wage Foundation was set up in 2011 to recognise and celebrate responsible employers who pay the Real Living Wage, by awarding them the Living Wage Employer Mark. The Living Wage rates are announced in November each year, and employers should implement the rise within six months.  The foundation accredits Living Wage employers through a signed licensed agreement, when they commit to pay all staff, over the age of 18, the Real Living Wage. Crucially, as well as all directly employed staff, the Living Wage agreement covers any regular third-party contracted staff, such as cleaners, security, or catering. If it’s not possible to change to paying the Living Wage on third-party contracts immediately, the foundation works with employers to develop a pathway to the Living Wage. Contracts can move to the Living Wage on a rolling basis as they come up for renewal, with the expectation for all to transition in under two years. There is an annual accreditation fee, which depends on the size of the organization.

Hundreds of thousands of low-paid workers have received a pay rise thanks to the Living Wage movement. In April 2016, the government introduced a higher minimum wage rate for all staff over 25 years of age inspired by the Living Wage campaign - even calling it the ‘national living wage’. However, this wage is not calculated according to what employees and their families need to live. Instead, it is based on a target to reach 66% of median earnings by 2024. Under current forecasts this means a rise to £10.50 per hour by 2024. For under 25 year olds, the minimum wage rates also takes into account affordability for employers.

The Real Living Wage rates are higher because they are independently calculated based on what people need to get by. That's why the foundation encourages all employers that can afford to pay the Living Wage do so and ensure their employees earn a wage that meets the costs of living, not just the government minimum. When you see the Living Wage Logo on a shop front or website, it means everyone working at that business, including outsourced workers, are paid the Real Living Wage. You can show your support by working with or purchasing from employers with this logo.

The Real Living Wage is voluntarily paid by thousands of UK businesses that choose to go further than the government minimum, because a hard day’s work should mean a fair day’s pay. Find out how you can join the movement against low pay at

Living Wage Foundation research shows that of businesses that pay the Living Wage…
58% say it has improved relationships between managers and their staff
64% say it has helped differentiate themselves from others in their industry
75% say it has increased motivation and retention rates for employees
80% saw an increase in the quality of work
86% say is has improved the reputation of their business
93% say it has benefited their business

Living Wage Movement Timeline:
2001: working people need a pay rise to earn a wage they can live on
2002: they campaign together to raise awareness of the problem
2004: following the campaign, the first UK business pays the living wage
2012: the London Olympics employs its staff at the living wage
2014: the success of the Living Wage movement spreads nationally
2020: over 6500 living wage employer are paying the real living wage, and over £1 billion has gone back to low-paid workers

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