Set at £9.50 an hour the Real Living Wage is voluntary and Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram is urging local firms to sign up. Tony McDonough reports
Businesses across Liverpool city region are being being urged to sign up to a pledge to pay their staff the Real Living Wage and offer more “avenues to training and progression”.
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram will launch the Liverpool city region’s first Fair Employment Charter at an online event on Tuesday. It has been developed in partnership with more than 300 local employers of all sizes, trade unions and workers.
It s designed to promote businesses who offer secure, properly paid jobs and treat staff well. It will also work with aspiring businesses to help them take steps to improve their own practices.
More than a quarter of the Liverpool city region’s workforce, made up of those who live in Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley St Helens and Halton, earn less than the Real Living Wage with an estimated 19,000 workers on zero hours contracts.
For workers 21 and and over and under 25, the Minimum Wage is set by the Government at £8.20 an hour and the National Living Wage for those 25 and above is set at £8.72 an hour. It is illegal for any employer to pay below those rates.
However, those rates are not calculated according to how much people and their families need in order to live, but are based on a target of reaching 66% of median earnings by 2024. The Real Living Wage, currently set at £9.50 for every worker aged 18 and over, is a voluntary initiative. So far there are around 7,000 UK employers who have signed up.
Now Mr Rotheram is urging as many city region firms as possible to sign up to pay the Real Living Wage. Approval of the Fair Employment Charter by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority fulfils a manifesto commitment he made before his election in 2017.
“Our Fair Employment Charter is central to the work we’re doing to make our region the fairest, most inclusive region possible,” said Mr Rotheram. “This agenda is now more important than ever as we look towards rebuilding our economy in the wake of the COVID pandemic.
“Since the start of the pandemic we have done all we can to keep our businesses afloat. We introduced a £40m emergency fund and have given grants to 1,700 businesses in the leisure, hospitality and retail sectors, and within their supply chains. And we’ll always try to support local businesses whenever we can.
“But we also have to support our workers as well. The pandemic has highlighted the key role that workers in logistics, retail, and health and social care play in keeping our society functioning. We need to ensure that they, and everyone else, are fairly rewarded and able to work in conditions that don’t put their health at risk.”
The Fair Employment Charter has been developed following an engagement exercise including businesses, staff, trade unions, and the public, who were asked about their experiences of work, what makes a good workplace and what they thought good and fair work should look like.
The final stage of development of the Fair Employment Charter has been guided by a Reference Group, made up of Trades Unions, Unions, CIPD, ACAS, community and voluntary sector and both public and private employers.
Mr Rotheram added: “A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work in safe, decent conditions should be the minimum any of us should expect in our working lives, and the great bulk of our employers in the city region already deliver that. Our charter is about recognising the good employers and seeking to persuade the rest to do the decent thing.”