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Majority of Scotland’s Biggest Employers Not Paying Living Wage

A recent survey from BBC Scotland has found that 40 of the top 50 employers in Scotland are not paying staff the living wage. Only ten employers were ensuring that all of their staff were paid the living wage.

The living wage is a voluntary hour rate that is considered to be the minimum that staff need to be paid to live comfortably. At £7.85 an hour, it is 21% higher than the legally-set minimum wage of £6.50.  

Although a substantial number of the largest employers were not paying the living wage, more than 1,000 employers across the country stated that they were paying the wage voluntary, with 200 across Scotland.

Living Wage Employers

Despite some employers not opting to pay staff the living wage, they stated that they rewarded staff with discount and loyalty schemes, however, some of the largest companies such as Barclays, Standard Life, local councils and charities were paying the living wage.

One of the largest firms employing staff on the living wage KPMG stated that although many believed that hiring staff on the living wage would be costly, they were saving money.

The Head of Infrastructure and Government at KPMG, Jenny Stewart said that although it was the right thing to do, the company was also saving money due to staff being happier, less turnover in regards to staff and a more effective, happy workforce.

Some Still Not Paying Appropriately

The study conducted by the BBC found that one of the largest sectors in Scotland was not paying the living wage, with no top flight football teams paying the minimum wage. Top-flight clubs in Scotland have some of the highest wages in the country.

Peter Kelly from the Poverty Alliance, which promotes the living wage, told the programme that the clubs needed to do more.

He said: "It's really unacceptable, I mean we would say the same about the majority of businesses in any other sector not paying the living wage - we really think that they can.

"These are clubs that are leaders very often in their communities. They need to be showing leadership in terms of pay as well; there's a lot more they could be doing."

Despite the criticism, the CBI, which represents employers, stated that if firms did pay the minimum wage it would result in job losses. In a statement, they said "Rather than requiring firms to introduce pay rises that many cannot afford, we must look at ways to raise living standards sustainably."

More To Be Done

Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training, stated that more had to be done to reward workers and eradicate poverty. She said: "There is a kind of 'no pay, low pay' trap that people get caught up in, a sort of cycle.

"At the Scottish government level, we don't have the kind of specific powers that we need to have over things like the minimum wage in order to effect concrete change through government measures.

"However, what we are doing, I think quite effectively, is using the soft power of government to encourage and cajole employers who are still not quite there yet in their thinking, to be realising the enormous benefit of paying their staff a living wage.

"We know from studies that it does result in increased productivity, much reduced staff turnover - obviously, and a general much better feeling in the workplace."

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