Becoming a Living Wage Employer

People are often surprised to learn that Living Wage Employer accreditation is awarded largely on trust.

Julie McGahan is Manager at Living Wage Scotland, a programme hosted by the Poverty Alliance in partnership with the Living Wage Foundation and funded by the Scottish Government.

We don’t require employers to provide us with evidence on their pay structure, and we aren’t in the business of auditing employers. Instead, accreditation can be awarded once an employer signs a licence agreement- a legal contract which is held between the Living Wage Foundation and the employer. In signing this, there are a number of conditions which employers commit to.

The first is that all directly employed workers within the organisation are paid at least the real Living Wage of £8.75 per hour. The second is that all contracted workers who work regularly on the employer’s premises are also paid at least the real Living Wage. This may be cleaners or other workers, depending on the type of business.

Sometimes it is not possible to implement the real Living Wage straight away for all contracted workers. For example, where a contract is already in place and the terms of the contract cannot be renegotiated until the contract comes to an end. In cases like this, we can offer a ‘phased implementation’ option, which allows employers to set out milestones for implementation of the real Living Wage for contracted workers. Living Wage employer accreditation can be awarded when the milestones are agreed with Living Wage Scotland.

Sometimes there are lots of contracts to consider, especially with larger employers who operate across multiple sites. However Living Wage Scotland are an experienced team who can guide employers through the process. In fact, a recent survey of accredited Living Wage employers in Scotland found that 97% of Living Wage Employers rated the service they received during process of accreditation as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’.

Another important condition within the licence agreement is the commitment to increase rates of pay to the real Living Wage each year, when the new Living Wage rate is announced. The new rate is announced at the start of Living Wage Week- the first week of November each year. When the new rate has been announced, accredited employers have six months to implement it.

Becoming accredited allows employers to use the ‘We are a Living Wage Employer’ mark. You may have already spotted this logo on buses, vans or trains, in shop or pub windows, or perhaps when you’ve had an email from or visited the office or website of an accredited Living Wage employer.

The Living Wage Employer network in Scotland has grown exponentially in the past four years, from around 20 employers when Living Wage Scotland launched in April 2014, to over 1,150 today. It’s a rapidly growing movement across Scotland and the UK, and one which employers say that they are proud to be a part of.
Even if paying the real Living Wage seems more aspirational for your organisation at the moment, it’s still worth getting in touch with Living Wage Scotland. We treat all enquiries in confidence and will offer advice and support to allow your organisation to develop a pathway to becoming accredited.

To find out more, please contact: or visit