By Jess Goble
Today is Black Friday, a red-letter day from across the pond that is now firmly marked in every retailer’s calendar. It’s so big that it is now likely to knock the Boxing Day sales off the top spot for spending! Shops offer pre-Christmas discounts and it’s not for the faint-hearted.
For shop workers, it is a challenging time. Being run off your feet certainly makes the day whizz by, but in a sector where low pay is the norm, this isn’t a time filled with yuletide cheer for everyone. With opening hours often being extended for the entire weekend, the additional pressure on staff can mean missing breaks, starting early and leaving late – not to mention having to listen to Jingle Bells on repeat!
Until June this year, I was one of those workers; the smiling, helpful face you see in shops across the UK. Wanting to make a difference for my former colleagues in retail is one of the reasons I joined the team at the Living Wage Foundation. We’re the organisation at the heart of the Living Wage movement, who believe, along with 3000 UK employers, that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.
Our rates are based on the real cost of living and they are annually calculated to make 100% sure they’re enough to live on. They are: £9.75 in London and £8.45 in the rest of the UK. Over the last year we have worked with major retailers to develop a series of workplace pilots testing operational strategies that support better jobs in retail.
The result of this work is a practical toolkit that sets out how retailers can provide value for customers whilst creating “good” jobs that are more stable and more meaningful for employees. This, unsurprisingly led to staff wanting to stay with their employer. They also perform better for employers that invest in their team’s personal and professional development. A win-win situation for everyone involved!
The journey towards making the retail sector a good place to work doesn’t stop here. Alongside well-known retailers such as Ikea, Majestic Wine, Oliver Bonas, and our brilliant smaller retailers, we are looking to keep building on the work we have already done, and you as customers can take steps to help with this too!
Step One – Buy Living Wage – a small change makes a big difference!
Buy from Living Wage employers by using our accredited employer guide and map to look up retailers in your area who pay the real Living Wage to their employees.
Handily in time for Christmas, today we are releasing our 2016 Gift Guide, featuring hand-picked products suitable for everyone. Please have a peruse and support Living Wage retailers from the comfort of your own home!
Step Two – Look out for our logo in shops around the UK.
We are placing our Christmas-themed tote bags in selected Majestic Wine and Richer Sounds stores, as well as in many of the retailers featured in the Gift Guide, so please visit and you might be one of the lucky few to grab a freebie!
We are planning to feature the bags in our retailers even after Christmas, so follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to see where they might pop up next, and to also stay up-to-date with our work.
Step Three – Sign the pledge to become part of the Living Wage movement
Take action to end in-work poverty across the UK. We need everyone’s help to push employers to go further and this gives you the opportunity to take an active role in furthering the movement. If you are an employer who pays, or wants to pay the real Living Wage, find out more about getting accredited by filling out an enquiry form on our website.
Please let me know if you have any thoughts about this in the comment below, or by contacting the Foundation. I look forward to hearing from you!
About the author: Coming from a background in high-end luxury retail, I have followed my passion for social justice campaigning to the Living Wage Foundation, where I work as a Programme Officer. You can find me on Twitter @jg243