01 September 2011

Methodist Church becomes first major denomination to pay Living Wage

People who work for the Methodist Church will be paid at least the Living Wage from today. The Methodist Church is the first major Christian denomination to implement this policy in Britain.

From 1 September 2011 all people employed by the Methodist Church will be paid at least the Living Wage (currently £8.30 per hour in London and £7.60 elsewhere). This is the hourly wage that will enable someone who works full time to live and participate in society (for example, by having time and some money to spend with family, being able to pay for children's school clothes and some school trips). The Living Wage rate is reviewed annually and recommended by Church Action on Poverty, an independent charity. The legally enforced Minimum Wage ranges from £3.64 per hour for school leavers to £5.93 for those over the age of 21.

"The majority of people living in poverty are from a working household and low pay is one of the major drivers of poverty in the UK," said the Revd Leo Osborn, President of the Methodist Conference. "As Christians we care deeply about justice and fairness. A long-hours low-pay culture can be found up and down our nation. The reality of low-paid work for many is very long hours and multiple jobs, leaving little time for family, community or leisure. In a fractured society where family and community matter more than ever, paying the Living Wage is one practical way of showing a commitment to these aspects of life."

The UK Living Wage was founded after concern that community and family life suffer when adults in a household need to work long hours and multiple jobs to afford a basic standard of living. It allows a person to work 40 hours a week in return for a decent standard of living.

Commenting on the practical implemention of the policy, Director of Development and Personnel, Ms Carmila Legarda said: "We have encouraged our churches to pay staff a Living Wage for a number of years and we finally made it our policy after extensive research to ensure it would be affordable and deliverable. But equally we know that throughout the Connexion much work and some difficult decisions have needed to happen over the last year. We have been happy to work alongside churches introducing the Living Wage over the last year and will continue to do so as long as it is needed.

"Justice for our workers was the key reason for this policy, but another major factor was our understanding that by paying church workers a decent wage we would be helping them to be more effective employees. There may be added costs but we believe that it's money well spent."

Church Action on Poverty are strong advocates of the Living Wage within the faith sector and welcomed the Church's commitment: "We are delighted that the idea of the Living Wage is gaining momentum within Churches and faith groups and this step from the Methodist Church is a clear endorsement of that. We now hope that other denominations, charities and employers more generally follow the example of the Methodist Church in signing up as Living Wage employers," said Niall Cooper, Coordinator of Church Action on Poverty. 

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