PROGRESS on improving wages in the hospitality industry has been made with the news that an independent multiple owner has signed up to the living wage.

The Edinburgh-based Kilderkin Group, which employs 35 people across five venues, is the first independent multiple operator to become accredited but it is hoped that others will follow suit.

The accreditation means that everyone working at Edinburgh’s Kilderkin, Blue Blazer, The Windsor, La Petite Mort and Bennets Bar receive a minimum hourly wage of £8.75.

This rate applies to all direct employees and third-party contracted staff and is significantly higher than the statutory minimum for over 25s of £7.83 per hour introduced in April 2018.

“There’s a sea change happening throughout the hospitality industry with a massive shift toward staff wellbeing, work-life balance and mental health,” said owner Jacqueline Nisbet. “We’re committed to paying the real living wage to look after our employees and find dedicated staff. We put our staff through training programmes which provides a good base for those who want to be in the trade long term. We’ve also started group fitness for staff which is great fun and has a positive impact on their physical and mental healthThese investments in our staff allow them to do a better job and then, ultimately, everyone wins.”

Co-owner James Nisbet added: “The living wage is something we’ve spoken about since day one. We’ve always wanted to have professional bartenders that are earning enough to keep them in the trade rather than feeling as though they have to leave to find better paid work. We want our staff to have a life outside of work so that when they come in for a shift they are fresh and happy and can provide good customer service.”

In Scotland, 67% of hospitality staff are currently paid below the real living wage.

“Edinburgh’s hospitality industry is vital to Scotland’s economy and provides employment to 34,000 people, yet hospitality is typically low paid and transitory employment,” pointed out Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance.

“The real living wage is a tool that can re-shape the industry and in turn help reduce levels of in-work poverty in Scotland. We are delighted to congratulate the Kilderkin Group for demonstrating real leadership by becoming a living wage employer.”

Jack Evans, Living Wage Scotland manager said: “The Kilderkin Group has become Scotland’s only accredited independent multiple operator in the hospitality industry and has joined the growing movement of over 1200 companies in Scotland who recognise that living wage accreditation is the mark of a responsible employer.

“They are raising the bar for employers within the hospitality industry and I hope that this public commitment to their staff encourages other hospitality employers to follow their lead. Living Wage Scotland plan to work with more of Scotland’s best bars, restaurants, hotels, cafes, pubs and clubs to ensure that more workers receive a real living wage.”

The real living wage for the UK outside London is £8.75 per hour. These figures are calculated annually by the Resolution Foundation and overseen by the Living Wage Commission based on the best available evidence on living standards in London and the UK.

Employers choose to pay the real living wage on a voluntary basis and it enjoys cross-party political support.

The Westminster Government’s so-called “living wage” is merely a new minimum wage rate for staff over 25-years-old. It was introduced in April 2016 and the rate is £7.83 per hour as of April 2018. The government rate is based on median earnings.