What do employers tell us about the benefits of Living Wage accreditation?

It’s now 10 years since Living Wage Scotland was launched by the Poverty Alliance– and we have seen a decade of incredible impact. More than 64,000 workers in Scotland have received a pay increase to the real Living Wage because of their employer’s Living Wage commitment. These pay rises amount to more than £465 million of extra wages in the pockets of low paid workers.

Living Wage Employer
Living Wage Employer

Accredited Living Wage employers tell us that providing workers with the security of a real Living Wage is the right thing to do and that there are business benefits to be enjoyed. Some of the employers in our network shared their views.

The Stand Comedy Club, who operate in Glasgow and Edinburgh have been accredited since 2015. Fraser Milroy, the manager of The Stand in Glasgow, and the production manager across the Stand company told us:

“The reasons the audiences and acts want to come here is because the environment is friendly and welcoming, and that comes down to workers feeling happy and secure in their work.

 The Stand are investing in their teams, investing in their buildings, and everything else that’s needed. If The Stand can prove that you can not only pay your staff properly but turn a profit and have a good company, you can’t say it’s not possible because we’re proving it’s possible. 

 I would encourage every business, particularly in Hospitality, Entertainment, and the Arts to become an accredited Living Wage employer. It improves everything about the happiness and wellbeing of everyone – both those who are working for your company and those using your service.”

An employee at The Stand told us:

“For me personally, I always have a trust that the company will do the right thing for me. It’s important to make sure staff feel appreciated. We’re human beings. And there’s also the view where if it’s minimum wage, then okay, I’ll do minimum work.”

The business benefit from valuing staff with a real Living Wage was echoed by Gillian Frew, Managing Director of Fat Buddha. The company are an independent retailer based in Glasgow and have operated for 18 years. They became accredited as a Living Wage employer in 2023. Gillian told us:

“If we didn’t have the right employees, the company wouldn’t ‘be where we are today, so it’s important to reward and value employees. By paying the real Living Wage, we think we do that. It means we get better quality staff, who can provide better customer service, which benefits the business. On paying the Living Wage, I just wish we’d done it sooner”.

An employee at the Fat Buddha store told us:

“The real Living Wage makes me feel valued, it does make a difference due to the cost of things like petrol, and the cost of everything in general. If people are getting paid more, they’ll enjoy working more as well”.

Some employers already paying at least the real Living Wage also report benefits from accreditation.

Conor Lavery, Director of Atlas Winch & Hoist services told us: “We have long paid at least the real Living Wage as it helps to attract and retain a motivated team. We decided to seek accreditation to signal our ongoing commitment to our staff, some of whom have been with us for more than 20 years. Gaining the Living Wage accreditation demonstrates we want to do as much as we can to support our workforce who are crucial to our success.”

Many employers are grappling with difficult decisions on finances for their organisations, due to high operating costs. However, thousands of accredited Living Wage employers across Scotland continue to prioritise investment in their staff, because they recognise that a happier, healthier, and committed staff team will strengthen the organisation’s resilience to weather the storms for now and in the future.

With more than 3500 accredited Living Wage employers, we are in a strong position to reinforce the social value and business benefits of investing in a real Living Wage, while supporting our network to maintain and expand their investment in staff with schemes like Living Hours and Living Pension.

SSE are one Scotland’s largest, and longest accredited Living Wage employers, who have expanded their commitment to Living Hours. In their reflections, Rachel McEwen, Chief Sustainability Officer at SSE Plc said:

“10 years as a Living Wage employer has seen much change. The world has experienced a pandemic, wars and a current cost of living crisis. However, SSE’s commitment to providing a decent wage remains utterly consistent.

We’ve learned that solid foundations like the real Living Wage and the Fair Tax Mark, provide a platform from which we can pursue the abundance of opportunity associated with climate action.  So in the coming months and years we will seek out new ways to support both direct and indirect employees such as furthering our work on the roll out of Living Hours throughout our supply chain. We look back with pride and look to the future with expectation.

Young Scot are a large charity who have become accredited on Living Wage, Living Hours and Living Pension schemes. Hilary Ramsay, Director Finance and Corporate Services at Young Scot said:

“Our Living Wage, Living Pensions and Living Hours accreditations represent a fundamental aspect of Young Scot’s commitment to social responsibility and ensure that all employees receive a wage and security of hours that is sufficient for a basic standard of living. The wellbeing of our staff remains our priority and receiving accreditation also shows our long-term commitment to their financial wellbeing.”

The Living Wage Scotland team are committed to working with employers across all sectors and industries in Scotland on their journey to accreditation. We are excited to see the impact that the growing Living Wage employer movement can deliver in the decade ahead.

For information on Living Wage, Living Hours or Living Pension accreditation, contact us on accreditation@povertyalliance.org or visit www.livingwagescotland.org