THE leader of Worcester City Council has called on bosses to see if they can give their lowest paid workers the official living wage.
Councillor Simon Geraghty has admitted defeat for implementing it by April, but says 2014 is still a potential target. The ruling Conservative cabinet has accepted a motion by backbench politicians which asks council staff to examine the implications in more detail before bringing it back for a decision. The performance management and budget scrutiny committee (PMBS) approved the motion last week, which asks for a new report by September.
At the moment, 90 employees earn less than the living wage rate of £7.45 an hour, of which 21 are permanent staff and the rest casuals.
A previous report, published in January, said the move could lead to pressure from other workers for pay increases. It also warned that with the rest of the council facing freezes, it would confuse pay grades and could result in some supervisors earning the same rates as the people they supervise.
Coun Geraghty, speaking during a cabinet meeting, said: “PMBS has done what we have asked it to do and I think a unanimous motion such as this gives the issue strong legitimacy, and from that perspective I welcome it.
“It allows us to use some sensible time to address it by September as part of the 2014 budget, which is very sensible and I’m happy to support it. What I want to see now is officers addressing some of the issues around it so we can make a decision later in the year.”
Councillor Lucy Hodgson said: “I certainly feel this is something we need more information about – we need to get the right fit for our employees and understand the ethos around it, too.”
The living wage of £7.45 differs from the legally-enforceable minimum wage of £6.19 and has already been adopted by 140 employers nationwide.