Living Wage Week 2016
I am immensely proud that Scotland is leading the way on the Living Wage. As we approach the end of Living Wage Week, there are now 637 Accredited Employers in Scotland – more than 20% of the UK total.
Entering this Parliament, we set the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative a new, ambitious, target of 1,000 accredited employers by the autumn 2017. We have done this, not only as it’s the right thing to do, but because, we believe it will bring real benefits for employers, employees and the wider economy.
By paying the Living Wage, employers are voluntarily choosing to go further than the minimum wage to ensure that their employees can earn a wage which is enough to live on. The results of which, are that many employers are reporting wider business benefits as a result of their investment in staff pay.
Independent research has demonstrated that employers have found the Living Wage to enhance the quality of their staffs output, including better morale and retention and recruitment of staff to their organisations, while absenteeism has fallen.
Earlier this week, the First Minister confirmed the new Living Wage rate of £8.45 an hour – a rise of 20 pence that will benefit thousands of employees across Scotland.
Throughout this week, my ministerial colleagues and I will be meeting with employers and employees to hear first-hand what the Living Wage means to them and the positive impact the Living Wage can have. This is an indication of our commitment to this cause, but also our vision for a fairer Scotland.
These principles are at the heart of our Labour Market Strategy, which sets out a vision for a flexible, resilient and strong labour market. A labour market that can drive inclusive, sustainable, economic growth, increase productivity and improve the lives of people through work. Paying a decent and fair wage is at the centre of this ambition.
With 80% of employees paid at least the Living Wage, I am proud that Scotland leads the way across all four countries of the UK with the highest proportion of people benefiting from our commitment to the living wage and fair work. Not only that, the Scottish Government is leading by example. We are an accredited Living Wage employer – the first Government in the UK to be accredited.
We recognise the real difference it can make to the lives of people working in Scotland and it is great that more employers are recognising that. I believe that every employer should reward their staff fairly, which is why the Scottish Government has long championed payment of the Living Wage and fully supports the Living Wage Campaign.