As families across the UK continue to struggle against the cost-of-living crisis, many do not earn an income they can live on. This is where the Real Living Wage (RLW) comes in. Developed by the Living Wage Foundation, it accredits organisations who agree to pay a living wage reflective of the current economic climate in the UK.
The wage has recently increased by 10 percent to reflect the living crisis, offering workers’ an hourly base rate of £12.00 through the UK, and £13.15 in London. This is a lifeline for many, as sixty percent of those earning below the RLW were forced to rely on food banks in the past year.
Currently, there are 460,000 workers employed by the 14,000 organisations that have signed up to pay the RLW. However, this still leaves many UK workers vulnerable in times of economic uncertainty. 3.5 million, or 12 per cent, of the UK workforce currently earn below the RLW.
Recognised service providers
The Living Wage Foundation members include different types of employers; those who pay their staff directly, and those who are service providers that deliver client contracts and employ subcontracted staff.
Corps falls into the latter category, meaning that we have a less straight set path to offering the RLW. For many service providers, especially those in the facilities management industry, clients that pay for facilities and security services often push back against paying a higher wage.
To address this, the Living Wage Foundation formed the steering group for recognised service providers, which our CEO Mike Bullock has now co-chaired for two years. Major property and FM industry providers are part of the group, including CBRE, Compass Group, and JLL PAM. We come together to address and dispel the reservations of firms in the sector and offer guidance to those willing to embrace the RLW.
For Corps, this has meant that we have walked away from contracts that do not include the RLW. Since joining the foundation in 2019, 33 per cent of Corps employees were paid the RLW. We are now proud to state that we are at 98.7 per cent RLW, with an ambition to hit 100 per cent by the end of our financial year.
This number of recognised service providers is also growing. We are now just shy of 200 members, who advocate for improved wages and convince their clients to increase their employees paid the RLW. However, we recognise that this goal is not an easy one for any organisation to reach. We have worked for years to be in a financial position that allows Corps to reject non-RLW contracts.
Real Living Wage is good for business
For Corps, the RLW has allowed us to secure more and better contracts. It does, however, increase our base cost. This higher investment is not easy for any employer to promise, especially during a time of economic uncertainty. Many organisations will not want to commit themselves to contractual agreements for higher pay.
From a business perspective, though, providing the RLW can have a return on investment over time. Employees who do not struggle to feed their families, cover their heating costs, or pay their essential bills, are able to actually dedicate themselves to their work. These employees have increased job security, which in turn reduces the turnover of staff. A reduced turnover means that organisations will require less resources for specialist training of new staff. Training can be a lengthy and costly investment, especially for the security sector, where strong measures are paramount.
The RLW can help embed employee’s needs into the fabric of organisations. This can lead to more favourable financial outcomes and of course profitability in the long-run, but more importantly, can ensure that some of the hardest workers in this country are paid a wage reflective of their efforts.
No one in full time works deserves to struggle to meet their basic needs. That is why the RLW is so vitally important in our strained economic crisis. It is not an easy promise, but is a necessary one that makes our industry fairer.
To read more about our history providing the Living Wage, read here.