German supermarket chain Aldi has committed to pay its UK employees more than the voluntary living wage set by the Living Wage Foundation.
The supermarket will pay at least £8.40 an hour (£9.45 an hour in London) from February 2016, which is higher than most other UK supermarkets and higher than the Living Wage. This is currently set at £7.85 an hour (£9.15 an hour in London), although this amount is due to be revised next week.
Aldi’s announcement could be seen as a statement of intent, given that both Morrisons and fellow German retailer Lidl have committed to paying their staff the Living Wage in recent months.
At present Aldi pays its store assistants at least £8.15 an hour, with the average employee wage being over £9.00 an hour. It is also one of the only supermarkets to offer paid breaks. The new pay rate is an increase of more than 3% for entry-level store assistants but equates to 16% more for stock assistants and caretakers, who will benefit the most from the increase.
Matthew Barnes, chief executive of Aldi, said: “The success of Aldi in the UK and Ireland has been driven by the commitment, hard work and ambition of our employees and we will continue to maintain our leading position on pay.”
The pay increase trumps George Osborne’s “national living wage”, which is a minimum wage of £7.20 per hour for workers aged over 25 from next April. Despite this Aldi is not an accredited Living Wage employer, as it utilises sub-contracted workers who are paid less than the Living Wage.
However Sarah Vero, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “We welcome the fantastic news that Aldi is set to raise its hourly wages to rates far above the national minimum and the premium for over 25s.”
“Their bold move demonstrates that paying the Living Wage in retail is achievable; despite other major supermarket chains telling campaigners that higher wages for the lowest paid are simply not possible. The economic climate has shifted. It’s time for business to recognise we need a recovery for all.”
The Living Wage Foundation is a charity that identifies the minimum amount of income required to live basically in the UK.