Independent fashion and lifestyle retailer Oliver Bonas has become the first UK high street employer to bring the ‘real’ living wage into force.
From today, September 1, Oliver Bonas will pay its employees aged 18 and over a minimum of 7.85 pounds an hour, or 9.15 pounds an hour in London, figures calculated based on the cost of living as campaigned for by the Living Wage Foundation. This compares with the national minimum wage of 6.50 pounds an hour for over-21s and 5.30 pounds for workers between 18 and 21.
The growing high street chain, currently has 43 stores across the UK, 35 of which are in London, as well as a head office and warehouse distribution in Chessington, Surrey, and has made the commitment to pay all of its directly employed staff, and third-party contractors, which can rise from 500 to 650 employees over the Christmas period, at least the Living Wage.
Oliver Tress, managing director and founder of Oliver Bonas said: “We are thrilled that we are now able to pay the Living Wage to all members of our team. We want to do everything we can to pay our team at OB a wage that reflects their hard work and loyalty - and the ‘real’ cost of living.
“It is exciting to be the first retailer on the high street to make this commitment. This is a direct result of the hard work of our team, helping us to grow the business at a good, steady pace over the last twenty or so years. We hope it also encourages more people to come and work with us here at Oliver Bonas in the future.”
Oliver Bonas becomes first UK high street chain to pay Living Wage
Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said the move was a “significant milestone” that would help “end the low wage culture of the British high street”, and praised the retailer for setting an example to the rest of the high street.
Moore added: “Major players in the retail sector have for a long time claimed that the Living Wage is too expensive to implement on the high street. This move by Oliver Bonas demonstrates that whilst it’s not always an easy choice for business to make, it is the right choice, and we hope that both staff and customers will support the leadership they are showing in their commitment to help end the low wage culture of the British high street.”
The independent living wage is set by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University and is based on the actual cost of living, while a separate London rate is calculated by the Greater London Authority. Both figures are higher than the national living wage that Chancellor George Osbourne announced in his summer budget, which stated that employers must pay 7.20 pounds an hour to staff over 25 from April next year.
The Living Wage Foundation has noticed a growing movement of what it calls ‘responsible businesses’ who are voluntarily agreeing to pay above statutory wage rates, just last week Sainsbury’s pledged to pay its 137,000 store staff more than the Government’s national living wage.
However, the foundation states there is more that could be done, with a recent poll by Nationwide, an accredited Living Wage employer, revealing that 87 percent of the public feel that business that can, should pay the voluntary Living Wage and 58 percent said they would be more likely to use the goods and services of a company that paid its employees the Living Wage.
Images: Oliver Bonas