Living Wage accredited employers speak at Ayrshire business breakfast event promoting family-friendly working practices

Two Living Wage accredited employers from Ayrshire were among the guest speakers at a special business event promoting the benefits of flexible, innovative and family-friendly working practices.

Jackie Hamilton (Senior Manager, Employment Services, North Ayrshire Council) and Victoria Edwards (CEO, VOCA) addressed business leaders, people managers and HR professionals at the Breakfast Briefing in the GSK Conference Centre in Irvine on Friday, September 8, from 9-11.30am.

Organised by Family Friendly Working Scotland, the event was held in partnership with Ruth Maguire MSP, who herself is a Recognised Living Wage MSP.

Ruth Maguire MSP, said: “This was a great opportunity to engage with experts and Ayrshire business leaders who have embedded a family-friendly approach in their organisation, and are reaping the rewards.

“I also used the event as a springboard to highlight the benefits of paying a Living Wage. I’m proud to be a Recognised Living Wage MSP and I’m happy to support the Poverty Alliance’s drive to encourage other businesses to help to make in-work poverty a thing of the past.”

Accredited as a Living Wage employer in 2016, Senior Manager Jackie Hamilton shared North Ayrshire Council’s experiences of being a family friendly employer, which has led to improved business efficiencies, enhanced services for the local community and improved work life balance of employees.

Speaking after Friday’s event, Fiona Walker, Head of Service for People and Transformation at North Ayrshire Council, said: “For the last two years we have been acknowledged as being one of the top Scottish employers for family friendly working, this in conjunction with our accreditation as a Living Wage employer are titles we wear with pride. Having family friendly policies and paying the Living Wage are an important indication of our commitment to fair work practices, and to a positive approach to our workforce. As part of our commitment to the Living Wage we also ask contractors who provide services for or on behalf of the Council to do so too. We are leading by example and that’s why we – as the largest single employer in North Ayrshire – are proud to show support for all employees. One of the most important reasons we think employers should embrace family friendly policies and strive for Living Wage accreditation is so they can become part of the Family Friendly and Living Wage community making these the norm rather than the exception.”

Telemarketing company VOCA became the first UK call centre to pay its staff a Living Wage when it gained accreditation in 2016.

CEO Victoria Edwards said: “VOCA is the first call centre in the UK to pay the Real Living Wage and we are passionately committed to our customers and have built an outstanding track record providing services to some of the UK’s best-known companies.

“Being a responsible business is about making a difference to both your customers and your employees, it’s not just about delivering profit to the bottom line in any given year. Employees are at the heart of any business and it’s important to have a team that are focused on delivering exceptional results. For an employee it is about more than the Real Living Wage. That was an easy decision for us to make – why would you not do it and our clients have been very supportive. But it is broader than just financial. Retaining and nurturing the best means a broader context within the working environment that fits for the needs of the staff. If I want full focus, I want to provide an environment where staff are not afraid to fail, they are proud to tell their family of the work that they do, that they know that there are services in the office to help with both their working and family life and that we provide stability, consistency and flexibility.”

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BrewDog Glasgow

Living Wage employers get the thumbs up from Scots

The Living Wage in Scotland has won a huge thumbs-up from Scots, who see it as not only boosting a company’s status but making its products and services more attractive.

Three out of four Scots would think more highly of a company which became accredited for paying the real Living Wage, according to a Poverty Alliance survey. It also found that four out of ten people north of the border care if products and services they buy are from a Living Wage employer.

The survey found strong public support for the Living Wage from an employee perspective too, with eight out of ten (80%) Scots saying that being paid a Living Wage would make them feel more valued by their employer and seven out of ten (71%) saying that being paid a Living Wage would make them feel their employer was investing in their development.

The news comes hot on the heels of an announcement last week that Diageo, the global drinks company and leading producer of Scotch Whisky, was announced as the 900th employer in Scotland to achieve Living Wage accreditation. It also represented a significant milestone for the Living Wage Foundation as Diageo is the 33rd company in the FTSE 100 to sign up to the scheme, meaning a third of the UK’s leading companies now support the Living Wage.

Paying someone on a minimum wage a Living Wage equates to a pay rise of £2000 a year, according to the Poverty Alliance, which promotes the real Living Wage in Scotland.
The poll of 1,024 adults, carried out for The Poverty Alliance by Survation, includes people of all income brackets ranging from 18 to 64 years old.

Peter Kelly, director of The Poverty Alliance, said:

“More and more employers in Scotland are seeing the benefits of paying a real Living Wage, in terms of increased retention and better staff morale. This poll shows that the public is behind the Living Wage movement in Scotland, both as consumers and employees. Survey results issued by us earlier this year showed that an increase in pay from the National Minimum Wage to the Living Wage would make workers feel more committed to their job, more productive, and more valued by their employer.

“Right now there are more employers in Scotland who are signing up to become Living Wage accredited employers than in any other region in the U.K. Accreditation is a voluntary programme and a very simple process which we urge employers of all size to consider.”

One of the first employers in Scotland to achieve Living Wage accreditation was ‘punk’ brewer BrewDog. Fiona Hunter, Head of People at BrewDog, said:

“Low pay, particularly in the hospitality sector, is something that doesn’t sit well with us. At BrewDog, paying a good wage makes absolute business sense. We cannot expect our employees to come to work and be amazing when they are worried about making ends meet. Providing a good standard of living is the right thing to do, and it has the added benefit of helping our employees be as brilliant as possible, which drives the growth of the business.

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For more information or media interviews contact Gillian Drummond on 01738 700138 or 07490 259009.

Perthshire’s female entrepreneurs hear why the Living Wage is good for business

Perthshire businesses already paying a real Living Wage are benefiting just as much as their staff.

That was the positive message from the Poverty Alliance’s Living Wage Accreditation Officer Lynn Cunningham (pictured) who was one of the guest speakers at Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network’s ‘Striving For Excellence’ event at the AliBob Café in Errol on Thursday evening (July 27).

Newly-appointed, Lynn is championing the business benefits of paying the real Living Wage of £8.45 an hour to the Tayside area’s employers and influencers.

Said Lynn: “When PBN board member Tricia Fox invited me to speak at this high profile monthly business event I jumped at the opportunity to share the very real advantages of paying a real Living Wage.

“The link between paying the real Living Wage and what you get from staff in return is well documented. Research has proved that if staff are treated well, employers will reap the benefits of increased productivity, better attendance levels and a strongly motivated workforce.

“Becoming a Living Wage employer sends a strong message about company values, which in turn makes it easier to recruit – and retain –  top quality staff.

“It can also attract ethically responsible consumers and even extends to competitive tendering.

“By being accredited as a real Living Wage employer – like Perth & Kinross Council – companies and organisations can demonstrate their commitment to Fair Work when tendering for public sector work.

“Achieving accreditation boosts the reputation of a business, which is why many employers in Perthshire are proudly displaying the Living Wage ‘badge’ on their websites, on social media – or even in their windows.

“I know there lots of employers in Perthshire already doing this – so it makes sense they enjoy public recognition for this and get accredited.”

And she added: “I’m keen to get the message across to the business community and am happy to come out to speak to employers, staff and business organisations. You can contact me by telephone 07846 375349 or email”

PBN board member Tricia Fox has been championing the real Living Wage since her award-winning  Marketing & PR Agency became an accredited Living Wage Employer in April 2015.

Tricia Fox, Managing Director of Perth-based Volpa, explained: “Being a responsible business is about making a difference to both your customers and your employees, it’s not just about delivering profit to the bottom line in any given year. Employees are at the heart of any business and it’s important to have a team that are focused on delivering your business exceptional results. Not only that, becoming a Living Wage Employer can boost the profile of your business and it’s a great thing to be able to shout about through the media and on social media. Modern employers really need to start asking themselves how they can pay a living wage, not if.

Tricia continued: “I’m proud that Volpa can call itself a Living Wage Employer and I’m happy to support the movement in encouraging other businesses to help to make in-work poverty a thing of the past.”

Perthshire Businesswomen’s Network holds regular events and networking sessions aimed at the area’s female entrepreneurs and businesswomen.

PBN’s 2017 ‘Striving For Excellence’ series has attracted an impressive line-up of inspirational speakers including Iain Hutchison (Managing Director of world-leading drilling engineering experts Merlin ERD) and most recently Ali and Bob Abercrombie (co-owners of the award-winning AliBob Café at Cairn O’Mohr Winery in Errol).

The line-up for the rest of the year includes Helen Smout (Chief Executive of Culture Perth & Kinross), Oli Norman (founder and owner of deals online site itison and Dada PR) and Chris van der Kuyl (co-founder of 4J Studios and developer of the Minecraft console editions).

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New survey reveals stresses of life on low pay in Scotland

One in three Scots on low income struggle to put food on the table, according to a survey commissioned by The Poverty Alliance.

The poll shows people are not only skipping meals but also falling behind on bills, rent and mortgage payments, topping up their incomes with credit cards and loans, and borrowing to get by. And for four out of ten of them, financial stress is affecting their work life.

The startling new figures released today reveal that hardship is real among low earning Scots, with many eager to build up savings or just have a day or night out.

The survey showed that 46% of those earning less than £14,000 are so stressed about their finances that it is negatively affecting their work life. More than a third (37%) had fallen behind with household bills in the last year, 34% were regularly skipping meals, 28% had topped up their income with a credit card or loan, and more than one in five (22%) had fallen behind with their rent or mortgage payments.

The survey of 1,024 adults by Survation included people of all income brackets ranging from 18 to 64 years old. Three quarters of respondents said more employers paying a real Living Wage of £8.45 an hour would raise Scots’ living standards. In addition, eight out of 10 said being paid a real Living Wage would make them feel more valued at work, 74% said they would be more committed to a job, and 66% said they would be more productive at work.

Peter Kelly, director of The Poverty Alliance – which promotes the real Living Wage in Scotland – said: “Our research paints a worrying picture of low earners scraping by, struggling to pay basic bills, skipping meals and feeling a lot of stress. In 2017, in a country like Scotland, that should not be the case.

“We know from other surveys that increasing pay levels from the national minimum wage to a real Living Wage- a pay rise of up to £2000 a year for full-time workers – brings huge benefits to employees and employers, in terms of increased retention and better staff morale.

“The real Living Wage of £8.45 an hour has the backing of three in four Scots in the survey, and it has cross-party support in Scotland. Our survey also found that more than a third of people felt a real Living Wage could tackle child poverty, and the vast majority felt it made for happier, more productive employees.”

Asked how they would spend the extra money if their employer started to pay them the real Living Wage, 44% of low earners, under £14,000, said they would save it and four out of ten would use it to pay off debts and 24% said they’d take part in more social activities.

Although awareness of the real Living Wage was high among consumers, there is still work to be done, said Kelly.

He added: “Since we started the Living Wage accreditation programme in Scotland three years ago, we have signed up more than 780 employers. In Scotland, we’ve had the fastest take-up of any region in the U.K. It’s a voluntary programme and a simple process which we would urge employers of all size to consider.

“There is a long way to go to address in-work poverty for the estimated 467,000 low-paid people in our country . As this research shows, putting just a little bit more in people’s pockets could have positive impacts both socially and economically.”

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