Methodist Church becomes first major denomination to pay Living Wage

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

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

"The majority of people living in poverty are from a workinghousehold and low pay is one of the major drivers of poverty in theUK," said the Revd Leo Osborn, President of the MethodistConference. "As Christians we care deeply about justice andfairness. A long-hours low-pay culture can be found up and down ournation. The reality of low-paid work for many is very long hoursand multiple jobs, leaving little time for family, community orleisure. In a fractured society where family and community mattermore than ever, paying the Living Wage is one practical way ofshowing a commitment to these aspects of life."

The UK Living Wage was founded after concern that community andfamily life suffer when adults in a household need to work longhours and multiple jobs to afford a basic standard of living. Itallows a person to work 40 hours a week in return for a decentstandard of living.

Commenting on the practical implemention of the policy, Director ofDevelopment and Personnel, Ms Carmila Legarda said: "We haveencouraged our churches to pay staff a Living Wage for a number ofyears and we finally made it our policy after extensive research toensure it would be affordable and deliverable. But equally we knowthat throughout the Connexion much work and some difficultdecisions have needed to happen over the last year. We have beenhappy to work alongside churches introducing the Living Wage overthe last year and will continue to do so as long as it isneeded.

"Justice for our workers was the key reason for this policy, butanother major factor was our understanding that by paying churchworkers a decent wage we would be helping them to be more effectiveemployees. There may be added costs but we believe that it's moneywell spent."

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