Catholic charity Caritas set up a voluntary living wage rate for Jersey employees in 2016 and have called for employers to sign up to their accreditation scheme as they attempt to eradicate poverty in Jersey.
In the UK the living wage, which employers must pay to over-25s, is £9 an hour, except in London where it is also £10.55. There are currently no plans to make the living wage compulsory in Jersey.
Last year the States agreed to join Caritas’ scheme – a move which will see sub-contracted staff as well as full-time employees guaranteed the hourly rate, which is calculated to cover the basic essentials of living, including housing, food and transport.
Caritas executive director John Scally said he hoped that the States’ decision, which is due to be brought into effect shortly, would encourage more firms to start paying the living wage.
‘Most States workers already are paid the living wage. But what this will mean is that any firm that the States sub-contracts to will also need to pay their employees the living wage for doing that work,’ he said.
‘Hopefully this will make them want to start paying their staff the living wage for any work that they carry out. The people this will help is manual workers like the cleaners and gardeners.
‘The idea of this is to help eradicate poverty in Jersey. We want the living wage to be voluntary but there are a lot of other firms in Jersey that have the finances to pay it to their employees.’
Mr Scally confirmed that as well as the States, a utility company and finance firm are planning to sign up for accreditation within the next few weeks.
So far several employers have joined the scheme but wish to remain anonymous.
Former States Deputy Jennifer Bridge has been appointed by Caritas to lead its Jersey living wage campaign and encourage more firms to join.
‘I’m delighted to not only be here to encourage employers to sign up but also to research the challenges that employers face in meeting the financial requirements of the living wage,’ she said.
‘At the heart of everything I do is a desire for fairness and inclusivity. The living wage encapsulates both those aims.’
Mrs Bridge is due to start work on 1 May. Jersey’s minimum wage – the legally required minimum pay rate – was also increased at the start of the month and is now £7.88 per hour, due to increase to £8.02 in October.
The States agreed last year to target a minimum wage that is 45% of mean average income by the end of 2020. The UK minimum wage varies according to a worker’s age and is currently £7.70 for 21-24 year-olds.