Fashion and homeware retailer Oliver Bonas has become the first high street retailer to pay all directly employed staff and third party contractors the living wage as minimum.
The retailer joins more than 1,700 accredited living wage employers; including SSE, Nationwide, Barclays and Nestlé. The UK living wage (which is calculated according to the costs of living in the UK) is currently £9.15 per hour in greater London, and £7.85 per hour outside of London.
Oliver Bonas has confirmed both rates will be paid to all employees aged over 18 from 1 September. This is higher than both the national minimum wage of £6.50 per hour and George Osborne’s national living wage of £7.20, announced in the summer budget and to be introduced in April 2016.
Rhys Moore, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said that this is a “significant milestone for the living wage movement”.
“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,” he said. “This move by Oliver Bonas demonstrates that while 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 it is showing in its commitment to help end the low wage culture of the British high street.”
Head of HR at Oliver Bonas, Anna Parfitt told HR magazine this is a clear message to workers of their value to the business. “We want our employees to celebrate and be a part of our successes.
“I think our part-time staff will benefit especially from this. It’s a great way of us saying we value our employees, and we hope it impacts on our retention too.”
Oliver Tress, managing director and founder of Oliver Bonas, added: “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 20 or so years. We hope it also encourages more people to come and work with us here at Oliver Bonas in the future.”