From the start of this month the Jersey living wage – an amount on which a person can maintain a normal standard of living – increased from £9.75 to £10.20 per hour, bringing it in line with the voluntary rate set in London. The lower minimum wage – the legal hourly rate employers must pay their staff – increased from £7.18 to £7.50 an hour.
The living wage is considered to be a wage that will provide a decent, if basic, standard of living for the recipient and allow them to live with dignity.
Earlier this year the States voted for all employees of the government, including those working for sub-contractors, to be paid a living wage with effect from this summer.
Catholic charity Caritas first set up a voluntary living wage of £9.40 per hour in the Island in 2016 and called on all employers to pay that rate to their staff. The charity offered
accreditation to the firms that signed up to the initiative.
John Scally, executive director of Caritas Jersey Ltd, welcomed the recent States decision to become a living wage employer but added that only a handful of other organisations had signed up to the scheme.
‘We still only have four companies that are fully accredited living wage employers,’ he said
‘But as you know, the States have agreed to become accredited and we are in the process of completing their accreditation.
‘We are also negotiating with another major public utility at the moment and with a number of other companies.’
He added: ‘I am heartened by the response following the decision of the States and hope to be able to make many more announcements over the summer.’
Mr Scally said that he believed that it would be particularly hard to convince employers in the low-wage retail, hospitality and agricultural sectors to become living wage accredited.
‘We all say that we want to eradicate poverty in Jersey. This initiative on its own will do much to help us achieve that goal,’ he said.
‘Admittedly this will make an impossible situation in some retail, agricultural and hospitality businesses even more impossible. We will have to work even harder to convince these companies that the business benefits and cost savings from paying a living wage will offset the initial costs and that it is the right thing to do.’
In the UK, the payment of the national living wage – £7.83 per hour from the start of the month – to all staff aged 25 or above is compulsory.