Consistently higher than the UK Government minimum wage, which is known as the National Living Wage, the real Living Wage is independently calculated each year based on what people need to live on, helping accredited employers ensure that they pay a fair wage that meets the cost of living.
It is re-calculated annually to keep up with rising costs, with the real Living Wage currently set at £9.90 compared with the National Living Wage of £9.50 for over 23s.
However, as part of its annual April pay review, Scottish Sea Farms – a real Living Wage accredited employer for almost five years now – has committed to paying a minimum of £10.40 per hour, representing a nine per cent increase year on year for its lower income employees.
It brings the company’s entry level salary to £21,632 before overtime, weekend payments, employer pension contributions and annual bonus.
Scottish Sea Farms managing director, Jim Gallagher, said in press release: “Across each area of our business, costs are rising at a rate and to a level never seen before. In the first four months of this year alone, the cost of fish feed – one of our largest overheads – has risen by 29 per cent, with further increases expected throughout the year. Over the same period, we’ve seen even larger hikes in the price of oxygen (+32 per cent), oil and diesel (+48 per cent), and electricity (+53 per cent). All of which are essential to the smooth-running of our operations.
“Of course, household incomes are under increasing pressure too, due to the rising price of food, fuel and energy, amongst other essentials. As an employer, it presents a very real challenge: how best to help employees withstand the worst of the hopefully short-lived inflationary hikes, whilst also ensuring any increases in pay rates are affordable longer-term.
“By paying the higher rate of £10.40 per hour, we hope to help those on lower incomes and their families who are being hardest hit by the deepening cost of living crisis.”
This voluntary commitment, effective from 1 April 2022, is the latest in a series of employee benefits introduced by the salmon grower, including enhanced maternity and paternity packages for all employees with one or more years’ service, discounted child-care places, and a new health and wellbeing app.
Scottish Sea Farms’ head of HR, Tracy Bryant-Shaw, explained: “Recruiting and retaining good people is key to the economic sustainability of most businesses, but particularly so for companies like ours that operate in more remote communities where workforces can be smaller and competition for employees is fierce.
“We’ve long recognised that safeguarding the long-term viability of our business starts with looking after our people, and these latest enhancements are all part and parcel of our work to become the employer of choice in our communities.”