Research has found that a large gap still remains between the government’s minimum wage for people aged over 23 and a “real Living Wage” based on the cost of living.
Over the five years since the National Living Wage began, the study by the Living Wage Foundation has found that a full-time worker in Scotland on the legal minimum rate (£8.91) has lost £8,400 compared to one on the real Living Wage.
The higher level (£9.50)is paid voluntarily by more than 1,900 Scottish employers.
Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “Thousands of workers in Scotland earning the legal minimum wage rates rely on legislation to secure an essential pay increase each year. Even the highest statutory wage rate – the national living wage of £8.91 – will not protect workers from in-work poverty. Decent pay and conditions for workers must be at the heart of our recovery.
“More employers across Scotland are recognising the benefits of paying at least the real Living Wage, resulting in a healthier, more motivated and resilient workforce.”
More than 300 Scottish firms have signed up to a real Living Wage accreditation scheme.
Among them is the Redshank Catering Company in Inverness which employs six part-time staff. The mobile seafood catering business was set up in 2018 by husband and wife Jamie and Ann Marie Ross.
Mrs Ross said: “We’d like people to work for us because it’s a career choice and they share our passion.
“We want our staff to earn money that they can live off and not choose us because it’s a job to tide them over until they find something else.”
Lynn Anderson, manager of Living Wage Scotland, set up by the Poverty Alliance, added: “We are incredibly proud of the commitment and resilience that Living Wage employers have demonstrated this past year, and we are further encouraged that more employers continue to seek out Living Wage accreditation as a symbol of their commitment to ensuring staff earn a decent wage.
“We hope more employers follow the lead of companies like Redshank Catering, who are going beyond their legal requirements on pay, and choosing to pay at least the real Living Wage to their staff”.