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Our views on the Living Wage

Our views on the Living Wage

There’s been quite of lot of talk about the Living Wage recently. As members will probably be aware, States Departments, States-owned companies and States suppliers have to meet the Living Wage standard but there are wider questions about the private sector, especially those that provide a range of benefits, such as meals and accommodation.

There’s also a big question mark over the use of tips in the Living Wage. According to the Living Wage Foundation, whose guidelines Caritas (which runs our local Living Wage accreditation scheme) follow, tips CANNOT be used in Living Wage calculations.

We’re simply asking for some clarity from government and we hope it is forthcoming. At the end of April, we issued the following press release, which generated quite a bit of coverage in the local media:

JHA calls for clarity on Living Wage

The group representing hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes, campsites, serviced apartments, attractions, activity providers, suppliers, and transport and travel operators, and other industries associated with hospitality, is asking for a fuller debate on the Living Wage.

The particular circumstances of the industry mean that paying a Living Wage is not as straight forward as for other sectors. It is not uncommon for hospitality staff to have meals and accommodation provided as part of their package. They also often receive tips on top of their wages for providing excellent customer service.

JHA President Fiona Kerley said: “In order to keep costs as low as possible, which would otherwise have to be passed to the customer, hospitality businesses often feed and/or house their staff. That can provide a significant financial boost to staff, especially in Jersey where accommodation costs are high. I’m sure most people can appreciate how much better off they’d be if they didn’t have to buy food or pay rent or a mortgage.

“Some businesses also allow individual staff to keep the tips they receive, others pool tips to share among the team, while others might keep tips paid on a card but redistribute those paid with cash. This raises the question of whether tips should be included in Living Wage calculation because our understanding of the Caritas guidelines is that they shouldn’t be.

“We don’t want to see our hard-working employees becoming worse off because the Living Wage paid by their employer includes tips. That defeats its very purpose. Everything points to the fact that more needs to be done to set the parameters around the Living Wage. I can’t imagine many workers in Jersey would be happy to be paid the Living Wage if it actually meant they were worse off. What we need is full transparency and a common set of guidelines.

“To help inform the debate, we are in the process of commissioning a study into the value of various roles in our trade and the benefits they receive. We will be happy to feed this information into any States analysis to ensure that businesses aren’t penalised, and hardworking staff aren’t adversely affected by the rush to pay a seductive, but potentially negative, hourly rate.”

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