UNISON has welcomed Cambridge University’s decision to become an accredited living wage employer with the Living Wage Foundation – a move that “needs to be replicated across all UK universities,” says the union’s head of higher education Donna Rowe-Merriman.
The living wage is calculated annually on the basis of the basic cost of living by the Living Wage Foundation. It is updated each November.
It is currently £8.75 an hour except in London, where the much higher cost of living means a wage of £10.20 an hour is needed.
Both figures are more than the government’s ‘national living wage’ – which is the national minimum wage level for over-25s.
Cambridge currently pays all directly employed university staff at or above the level of the living wage and has done so informally since 2014.
However, it has decided to seek formal accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation in the current academic year, saying that this will provide “further income security for staff and contractors”.
Ms Rowe Merriman commented: “This announcement by the University of Cambridge is a welcome move, but one that needs to be replicated across all UK universities.
“Low paid staff, often working for sub-contractors living in high cost areas in university cities are often some of the hardest hit in terms of their income.”
UNISON’s most recent Freedom of Information Act request found that 11,955 staff across the sector are paid less than the living wage –5,483 staff at UK universities are paid more than £100,000 a year.
“There is no place for low pay in higher education,” declared Ms Rowe-Merriman.