Under the voluntary real Living Wage (RLW) initiative, the hourly rate is to increase by 40p to £9.90 across the UK.
Some 2,400 employers in Scotland offer their staff RLW rates and new research from the Cardiff Business School shows these organisations’ staff have benefited from more than £310 million in extra wages since the start of the movement in 2001.
The increase in the RLW rate this year has largely been driven by sharply rising fuel and rent costs.
The RLW is different to the UK government’s minimum wage for over 23s, called the National Living Wage (NLW). While the RLW is independently calculated based on living costs and is paid by employers voluntarily, the NLW is based on a percentage of median earnings, and all employers are required to pay it.
Since the start of lockdown in March 2020, more than 700 employers have become accredited RLW employers through the Living Wage Scotland programme at the Poverty Alliance.
Major RLW employers in Scotland include SSE, Abrdn, AG Barr, Morrison Construction and DC Thomson.
The announcement of the rate rise came as the Living Wage Foundation said new research demonstrated the scale of low pay during the pandemic, with 4.8 million jobs (17.1 per cent of employee jobs in the UK) still paying less than the RLW. Scotland is the UK nation with highest proportion of jobs paying at least the RLW (85.6 per cent) compared to 82.8 per cent in England, for example.
Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance said: “We all need an income that is enough to cover our needs and protect us from poverty, and it’s only right that employers pay a wage that reflects the cost of living.
"Too many workers in Scotland are paid less than the RLW and, at a time of rising costs, are struggling to stay afloat. The RLW can offer protection from those rising costs, and we’re urging more employers to choose to commit to at least the RLW and help loosen the grip of poverty in Scotland.”