09 June 2015

The Living Wage: one year on

One year on from becoming an accredited Living Wage employer, The Health Insurance Group, one of only 1,400 accredited employers in the UK, says it was the right decision and so do its staff.

Brett Hill, Commercial Director of The Health Insurance Group, says: "Studies show a strong link between financial and emotional wellbeing as money issues can send stress and anxiety levels into freefall. As a responsible employer we felt it was important to support the Living Wage and do something practical about stress related to our own retention, motivation and productivity of staff. Living Wage is good for a business like ours, which is expanding, as it makes the company attractive to the right calibre of people. We signed up to the Living Wage in May last year and feel it has been enormously beneficial."

Julie Hibbins, 58, has been a cleaner at The Health Insurance Group's Sheffield office for the past four years and is a delighted and surprised beneficiary of The Living Wage. Her pay has gone up twice, in line with the living wage, from £7 to £7.85 per hour. Julie works through contractor Carol's Cleaning and says it was a real surprise to get the raise.

"It was a lovely feeling to get the Living Wage increase," says Julie. "The company treats me like one of theirs and I feel really appreciated. Everyone should be paid a living wage; it may not seem much to some but it makes a real difference. To me it is an extra £40 per month for the 11 hours a week I work at THIG and that mounts up." Julie, who lives in Sheffield and also cleans mornings at the University, was so delighted she sent a thank you card to The Health Insurance Group.

So far 1,400 UK businesses are accredited as Living Wage employers with a commitment to pay the living wage to all directly employed staff, to sub-contracted and third party workforces on their premises. Rhys Moore, Director of Living Wage Foundation, said: "More than 5 million workers in the UK are paid less than the Living Wage, and half of those in poverty live in a household where someone has a job. The Living Wage movement is one way to help tackle this inequality, and it is growing at pace. It's fantastic to see The Health Insurance Group celebrating their Living Wage status and championing the Living Wage. The more businesses talk about the benefits of being a Living Wage employer, the more consumers and other organisations will learn about why paying the Living Wage is so important. The Living Wage is a robust calculation that reflects the real cost of living, rewarding a hard day's work with a fair day's pay."

A recent poll by Nationwide, revealed that 87% of the public thought that those businesses that can, should pay the Living Wage and 58% would be more likely to use the goods and services of a company that paid its employees the Living Wage.