This Monday, Newcastle University was formally accredited as a Living Wage Employer, which means that all staff and employees receive a minimum hourly wage of £9.30.
This introduction is set to benefit around 700 University colleagues.
Recognising the role of the University as one of the biggest employers in the region, Vice-Chancellor and President of Newcastle University Professor Chris Day said: “As a responsible employer, we know that the real Living Wage means happier and healthier colleagues so we are delighted to announce this new rate of pay to recognise those who are key to making our University a safe and welcoming place.”
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Julie Sanders, who led the Living Wage initiative, said: “We are dedicated to creating a fairer and more just society at Newcastle University. This is thanks to the hard work and support from a large group of colleagues and it goes some way in recognizing the invaluable role our staff play in university life and its contribution to the local economy.”
The Real Living Wage is calculated according to living costs and provides a voluntary benchmark so that employers can ensure their staff earn an appropriate wage that they can live on sustainably. The current rate of the Living Wage, which was announced by the Living Wage Foundation also on Monday as £9.30, is higher than the government’s national living wage for over 25s which is currently £8.21 per hour. The hourly rate of pay is set independently and updated annually – it has increased by 30p since the 2018/19 rate – and, unlike the government minimum wage, it is higher in London, where real Living Wage employers pay £10.75 an hour.
The business benefits for real Living Employers vary greatly. Research by the Living Wage Foundation of over 800 accredited real Living Wage businesses, found that 86% of respondents reported that Living Wage accreditation had enhanced their organisation’s general reputation as an employer, and 64% said it differentiated the organisation from others in the same industry. It has also contributed towards recruitment, retention and staff motivation in over half of these businesses as well as improved relations between staff and managers. 32% of employers who responded said that the introduction of the real Living Wage has increased their bill for subcontracted services, and only 13% report that it caused difficulties in winning contracts from clients because of higher costs.
Around 180,000 employees across the country have benefitted from the introduction of the Real Living Wage
Currently almost 6000 employers throughout the UK, ranging from small local business to chains such as LUSH and Barclays, have voluntarily been accredited as Real Living Wage employers, benefitting approximately 180,000 employees. These companies share the Living Wage Foundation’s ethos that “a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay”.
Despite this, research by KPMG reveals that approximately 5.19 million jobs, or 19%, are paid less than the Real Living Wage. In the North East this figure is slightly higher than the national average at 22%. The real Living Wage is also subject to gender inequality – 24% of female employees earn less than the real Living Wage, compared to 15% of males.
Newcastle University is following in the footsteps of many other higher education institutions across the country who have also become Living Wage accredited. The Universities of Manchester and Liverpool were both certified in March of this year, closely followed by the University of East Anglia in April. Of the 110 accredited employers in the North East, Newcastle University is, however, interestingly the only university in the North East to be accredited; the Durham, Sunderland, Northumbria and Teesside Universities are yet to reach this status. Durham Students’ Union is, however, accredited, along with 23 other Students’ Unions across the country.
Featured image: Newcastle University, Flickr
Last modified: 2nd July 2020