Why Evenbreak is a Living Wage employer

Living Wage week begins next Sunday (2nd November), and I thought it might be useful to talk about why being a Living Wage employer is so important to us at Evenbreak.

There has been discussion recently from a number of prominent figures around whether some disabled people are “worth the minimum wage”. Whether or not their comments have been misunderstood, or taken out of context, the message they send is baffling. If the law states that all workers should be paid at least the minimum wage, by what criteria do we break that law for some of our citizens?

In my view, disabled people tend to add so much to any organisation that if anything, they should be paid a premium! We know that there is much evidence supporting the commercial business benefits that employing disabled people brings to an organisation (if you would like further information on that evidence, just email me on janeh@evenbreak.co.uk and I will send it to you). We also know that living costs for most disabled people are higher than those for non-disabled people. We also know that the minimum wage doesn’t provide enough to live on, whether disabled or not, and so has to be subsidised by the tax payer through working tax credits.

Evenbreak depends on our team for its success. As a social firm, we only employ disabled people, and every member of the team is vital in contributing their skills and talents to the work we do. It would be unthinkable to pay any of them less than the Living Wage. I hear other people who run small businesses saying that paying the Living Wage is a luxury they cannot afford. Evenbreak is a small (but powerful!) not-for-profit social enterprise, currently employing four people which will rise to seven in the next few months.  So we are, by any definition, a small business, and yet we value our people enough to pay them a decent wage.

Foe example, our Data Entry Clerk, Lewis, does what many would consider to be an unskilled job. He copies jobs from the job boards of some of our clients on to the Evenbreak job board. However, it is crucial that he does this well, accurately and timely. If this part of the operation goes wrong we are letting down our clients (employers) and our customers (disabled candidates). To my knowledge, in the 19 months he has been working for us (he was 16 when he started and is now 18) he has never made a mistake and never taken a day off sick. That would have been the case whatever we had paid him – he is a very conscientious and talented young man – but I strongly feel that his vital role should be well-rewarded.

In fact, all of the Evenbreak team are conscientious, talented and loyal, and I feel that should be reflected in their pay. As a not-for-profit social enterprise we are careful with every penny we spend, and investing in our talented staff is money well-spent, in my view. The founder/director does not draw the highest salary (in terms of hourly rate) from Evenbreak – and that is fine too. Pay is known not to be the highest motivator for employees, and it certainly isn’t with the Evenbreak team, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be paid what they are worth.

Apparently, Evenbreak is not unusual in taking this view, and certainly not un-business-like. Here are some interesting facts to back this up:

  • 80% of employers noticed an increase in productivity after implementing the Living Wage
  • 75% of employees reported an increase in the quality of their work after receiving the Living Wage
  • 85% of people think that companies that can afford to pay the Living Wage should voluntarily pay the Living Wage
  • One in five people in the UK earn below the Living Wage.

For context, the UK Living Wage for outside of London is currently £7.65 per hour (£8.80 per hour within London). This will be revised next week. The UK rate is set annually by the Living Wage Foundation and calculated by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University.

For more information, see The Living Wage website.

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/employers/

To find jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/jobs/

To make a donation to Evenbreak go here – https://localgiving.com/charity/evenbreak

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