Follow Leisure celebrates commitment to Real Living Wage

Follow Leisure Group, the holding company which operates the Slim’s Healthy Kitchen brand has been accredited as a Living Wage Employer. The Living Wage commitment will see all staff over the age of 18 working at Follow Leisure receive a minimum hourly wage of £9.50. The rate is significantly higher than the government minimum for over 23s, which currently stands at £8.91 per hour. Those of school leaving age (16-18) will be paid £7.50 compared to the National Minimum Wage of £4.62.

Northern Ireland is the UK region with the highest proportion of non-Living Wage jobs in the UK (23%), with over 202,000 jobs paying less than the real Living Wage. Despite this, Follow Leisure has committed to pay the real Living Wage and deliver a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work.

The real Living Wage is the only rate calculated according to the costs of living. It provides a voluntary benchmark for employers that wish to ensure their staff earn a wage they can live on, not just the government minimum. Since 2011 the Living Wage movement has delivered a pay rise to over 250,000 people and put over £1.3 billion extra into the pockets of low paid workers.

Gary McIldowney, owner of Follow Leisure said, “The UK hospitality sector is under pressure after the partial easing of lockdown restrictions due in part to staff shortages. Waiting staff and chefs are in particular demand as they had been forced to take up new opportunities during the pandemic. Overseas workers also returned home at the beginning of the pandemic, and many have not returned due to travel restrictions. The hospitality industry has traditionally been a low paying sector coupled with high operating costs, but we want to ensure our staff get paid a decent wage for their work”.

Follow Leisure Group is a multi-venue hospitality operator and owner of some of Northern Ireland’s leading eateries including Slim’s Healthy Kitchen, Canteen, Output Espresso and Morning Martha with 78 full and part-time employees.

Mr McIldowney continued, “We want to be transparent and ethical about the care of our employees. This is a hugely important investment to ensure stability of our business and to recognise the importance of our team, which is our most valuable asset. The real living wage should be high on the agenda of every business. We aim to demonstrate that it is possible to deliver this wage boost to our employees even in the most challenging of circumstances”.

In addition to boosting the wages of employees at Follow Leisure the group have a mental health programme “Follow On” that offers coaching to help with confidence, anxiety and depression, free staff meals while working, a paid day off on their birthday for salaried staff and quarterly team building events.

Laura Gardiner, Director, Living Wage Foundation said, “We’re delighted that Follow Leisure has joined the movement of over 7,000 responsible employers across the UK who voluntarily commit to go further than the government minimum to make sure all their staff earn enough to live on.

“They join thousands of small businesses, as well as household names such as Burberry, Barclays, Everton Football Club and many more. These businesses recognise that paying the real Living Wage is the mark of a responsible employer and they, like Follow Leisure, believe that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay”.

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