In a significant development for those employed by the university, UEA announced this week its commitment to provide the voluntary Living Wage to its employees, commencing 1 April 2019. On campus, student staff have already reaped the benefits of this change following a pay rise earlier this year.
As described on the Living Wage Foundation website, the Living Wage is designed to ‘meet the costs of living, not just the government minimum.’ Independent of government boards, this wage is calculated ‘based on the best available evidence about living standards in London and the UK’. From these calculations, the commission can estimate the minimum hourly rate at which a full-time employee could meet the ‘real cost of essential goods and services’.
At present, the voluntary Living Wage (excluding London) is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation to be £8.75 an hour. This rate is £0.92 higher than the legal minimum the UK government has dubbed the ‘national living wage’, and a full £1.37 above the legal minimum for 18-21 year olds.
Speaking on the move, Vice-Chancellor Professor David Richardson expressed his support for the decision: ‘We believe signing up to the real Living Wage is the right thing to do by our staff and it will not only benefit more than 300 UEA employees but also the wider community as well’.
UEA representative for trade-union Unison, Amanda Chenery-Howes, described the move as ‘a welcome boost for the staff at the bottom of the pay structure’. She goes on to express her hopes for the future of UEA employees, stating that, ‘This is a positive move in the right direction of what we hope will lead to UEA eventually becoming an accredited Living Wage employer’