Home Opinion Securing a Living Wage in Security Guarding

Securing a Living Wage in Security Guarding

by Brian Sims
Neil Barham: Operations Director at Trigion Security Services

Neil Barham: Operations Director at Trigion Security Services

It’s probably true to suggest that money cannot buy you happiness, but earning a fair wage in return for your day’s work can significantly improve the quality of your life and, indeed, your business output, writes Neil Barham.

That’s exactly why, as a business, Trigion Security Services is involved in the Living Wage Foundation’s campaign to raise workers’ minimum rate of pay from the National Minimum Wage (£6.70) to the Living Wage (£8.25 across the UK and £9.40 in London).

The Living Wage rate is determined independently, updated every year and calculated according to the basic cost of living. It’s not to be confused with the National Living Wage introduced by Chancellor George Osborne, which is more like a new Minimum Wage for the over 25s.

Many employers are worried about the financial implications of what they’re committing to when agreeing to pay the Living Wage. Have they any reason to adopt such a stance?

Financial impact

While most agree that paying the Living Wage is morally the ‘right thing to do’, many are worried about their bottom line. Businesses need to make a profit, but paying the Living Wage doesn’t mean this will not happen.

At Trigion Security Services, we have nurtured a rapidly growing portfolio. The business is fully committed to delivering best value services for its client base.

Our parent company, Facilicom UK, has developed detailed and radically innovative working models to show how the impact of paying the Living Wage can be less than devastating when it comes to contract costs. The company can also demonstrate ways in which to mitigate much of the cost of any pay rises through contract efficiencies and the introduction of smarter operating practices.

This can mean altering shift patterns, for example, and being creative with work schedules such that employees are not continually moving from site to site.

Who benefits?

Put simply, everyone benefits. Employees, employers and clients all see real and considerable benefits. The most significant benefit of paying a Living Wage is undoubtedly the improvement in colleague well-being, followed closely by the impact this has on the business as a whole.

Happier colleagues are more motivated. They provide a greater consistency of service and care, benefiting the clients and making them more likely to extend and expand our partnership with them.

If colleagues are happy, they’re also more loyal. Attendance at work is improved and job role ‘churn’ minimised, consequently reducing costs in areas such as recruitment, training and the outlay required for new uniforms.

The Living Wage Foundation believes that work is the surest way out of poverty. The organisation has found that, by dint of businesses paying the Living Wage, the quality of work increases, absenteeism falls, employees’ willingness to change practices is enhanced and the turnover of contractors decreases.

In addition to this, consumer awareness of a company’s commitment to being an ethical employer is boosted by the business concerned paying the Living Wage.

We pay the Living Wage as one of our core values. It’s the ultimate in social sustainability.

There are a number of wider societal benefits, too, including the reduced need for benefits to be topped-up and increased spending power for families. Additionally, employers preside over a happier, more motivated and, ultimately, more sustainable workforce.

Service Provider Recognition Scheme

Payment of the Living Wage is voluntary. Security companies do not solely have the power to ensure their employees receive it. However, the Living Wage Foundation offers a Service Provider Recognition Scheme for third party contractors who pay their own staff the Living Wage, and who commit to always offering a Living Wage option when submitting tenders.

Trigion Security Services was the first national security provider to sign on the dotted line.

Becoming a Recognised Service Provider only commits a business to paying the Living Wage to direct employees. For contracted employees, it simply means committing to having a conversation about the Living Wage with clients and offering two contract prices (one of which includes paying the Living Wage).

We don’t see why this commitment should provide a barrier to adoption.

More to be done

The fact that over 2,130 companies in the UK are committed to paying the Living Wage to their direct employees is fabulous news. However, by contrast there are just 61 third party contractors signed up to the Service Provider Recognition Scheme, and fewer than ten are security companies. This is despite there being over 800 Security Industry Authority Approved Contractors (not to mention all the other industries that could be involved).

In a business sector where so many are employed on the minimum wage, we need to see many more security companies involved with the Service Provider Recognition Scheme.

People earning the minimum wage are slipping further into financial difficulties, with in-work poverty increasingly becoming one of the UK’s major socio-economic challenges. Some are being forced into unsustainable working commitments just to make ends meet.

The Living Wage Foundation and Trigion Security Services prove that cost isn’t a barrier to paying a Living Wage. There are many benefits to be realised by businesses and the deserving recipients of a fair wage.

We’d like to see colleagues across the industry join us and the other organisations already standing beside us in this campaign so that we can tackle in-work poverty and make the security industry a better place in which to reside.

We can all be seen to lead the way wheh it comes to high standards of practice and integrity. The industry should not miss out on such an excellent opportunity to do just that.

Neil Barham is Operations Director (Security Guarding) at Trigion Security Services

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