Living Wage Week 2020 takes place between 9 and 15 November. With the impact of the pandemic deepening many social issues and inequalities across society, our support for the Living Wage is one of several ways in which we’re showing our commitment to promoting a fair and inclusive future for those within the communities where we operate.
Security and confidence – from Living Wage to Living HoursLiving Wage Week is a UK-wide celebration of the almost 7,000 employers that have voluntarily committed to ensure employees and sub-contracted staff earn a real Living Wage.
Before the pandemic, a study showed that low-paid, insecure work affects 5.1 million workers in the UK, some 16% of workers. About two million of these are parents. The Living Wage campaign recognises employers who can make a voluntary commitment to ensure workers earn enough to meet the cost of living. The real Living Wage is calculated according to the cost of living in the UK and in London, and is the only such rate independently calculated in this way.
We have been a Living Wage employer for some time, and in October we became one of the first employers accrediting as a Living Hours employer. The Living Hours programme sets a new standard for employers seeking to go beyond the real Living Wage in their commitment to fair work – aiming to improve empowerment among UK workers, by offering decent notice periods for shifts and the right to a guaranteed minimum number of hours each week. This commitment not only applies to our employees but also to our interns and suppliers on our premises.
Sandy MacDonald, our Global Head of Corporate Sustainability, said:
We extended our commitment with our support of a new ‘toolkit for responsible investors’ by the Living Wage Foundation, launched in partnership with ShareAction. The toolkit provides industry analysis and company case studies, looking at the potential benefits of businesses becoming Living Wage employers. It aims to promote the growth of Living Wage accreditations and the number of workers benefiting from what an accreditation offers.
Investing in the next generation – early careers
The current environment is challenging for many workers, but particularly for young people starting out in their careers – and investing in their skills has an important part to play in the long-term economic recovery.
We’ve maintained our commitment to our summer internship and graduate programmes. In September we welcomed 28 new graduates, placing them in roles across our business. For interns who were due to start in Summer 2020, we have agreed to honour their placements but defer the start to 2021, with the aim of providing them with the best experience possible. And through our traineeship programme, we are continuing to offer school and college leavers access to structured training, the opportunity for qualifications and a salary above the Living Wage. 22 trainees joined us in October.
We have an even bigger impact when we work with partners. We collaborate with Career Ready, The Prince’s Trust and The Sutton Trust to support young people in building skills, confidence and connections to enter the world of work. In November we also became one of the first employers backing the Young Person’s Guarantee – a commitment to five pledges that will help ensure, for all young people in Scotland aged from 16 to 24, opportunities for work, education or training.
Nicole Wallace joined our company as a school leaver in 2017, through our traineeship programme. Reflecting on her experiences since joining, Nicole said: