Oliver Bonas’ Living Wage vow hailed as important pay milestone
Campaigners hope more high street retailers will follow the lead of fashion and lifestyle chain Oliver Bonas and pay staff the Living Wage.
The firm, which has 43 stores and an HQ in Surrey, became the first high street to make the pledge – following in the footsteps of Scandinavian flat-pack giants Ikea.
Oliver Bonas will pay a minimum hourly rate of £7.85 outside London and £9.15 within the capital to those aged 18 and above.
This is a significant rise on the current minimum of £6.50 an hour and is also above the new National Minimum Wage of £7.20, which Chancellor George Osborne recently pledged to introduce in 2016.
Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation, hailed the announcement as a ‘significant milestone’.
He 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 businesses 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.”
He pointed out that big firms such as Nationwide, Nestle and Barclays already pay the Living Wage, alongside a number of other small and medium sized firms.
Oliver Bonas said the move fits in within its ‘Work Hard, Play Hard and Be Kind’ motto.
The chain’s founder and managing director, Oliver Tress, said: “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 20 or so years. We hope it also encourages more people to come and work with us here at Oliver Bonas in the future.”
The news comes after a study from the Resolution Foundation estimated that six million people will benefit from the Chancellor’s National Minimum Wage.
The foundation estimates that 3.2 million people will see a rise in their pay packets while a further 2.8 million will benefit from the ‘ripple effect’.
The average annual cash gain should be £1,210.
It found that 61% of those to benefit will be women, reflecting the fact that they occupy many of these low paid positions.
In total 28% of those working in the Yorkshire and the Humber region should benefit from the uplift – double the proportion to see the effect in London.
The East Midlands, West Midlands and Wales will all see 27% of workers benefit from the new pay rates.
Conor D’Arcy, Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “The 16 years since the introduction of the first minimum wage have shown that UK employers are adaptable and have coped well with the rising wage floor. But with the NLW set to deliver a pay rise to almost three in ten employees in some regions, the impact on workers – and the challenge for employers – in these areas will potentially be large.”
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