By Sairah Masud
A LEADING British Asian businessman has said all employers who can afford to do so should follow the living wage rate, particularly in the wake of Brexit.
Sunmark owner, Dr Rami Ranger’s CBE comments come after London mayor Sadiq Khan accused the owner of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotel chains – part of the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) – of reneging on a commitment to pay the living wage to staff in the capital in 2012.
“Not often do I agree with the Labour mayor of London, but this time I concur with his sentiments that staff should be paid the living wage,” Dr Ranger, who supports the Conservatives, told Eastern Eye.
“Every responsible employer must follow the guidelines set out by the UK government, especially the big corporation making huge profits.”
A rise in the voluntary minimum wage was announced last month, now set at £10.20 an hour in London and £8.75 an hour in the rest of the UK.
The above-inflation rise pushed the pay pledge over the £10 barrier in London for the first time, with more than 150,000 workers set to benefit across UK.
In a statement, IHG owed its failure to commit to its initial pledge to several valuable changes to UK pay and benefits legislation, including the introduction of a national living wage, pension auto-enrolment, higher national insurance and the apprenticeship levy.
While Khan expressed his delight for the rise in the living wage, he acknowledged the problem of low pay and inequality, stating that more than two million people are struggling to make ends meet in the capital.
The mayor said: “I want to make sure that no one who goes to work every day should have to endure the indignity of poverty. Paying the London living wage is not only the action of a responsible organisation, but a successful one too.
“Many of the accredited employers I speak to tell me of the increased productivity and reduced staff turnover that they’ve experienced since signing up.”
Paid voluntarily by more than 3,600 employers, the increase has come following a rise in transport, food and housing costs.
In addition to IHG, other companies who have failed to join the voluntary pledge include FTSE 100 companies Vodaphone, Shell and BT.
“The most important element of every business is its staff and if staff is neglected, then the business cannot move forward or be a happy place to work in,” Dr Ranger added.
Heathrow Airport was one of 150 employers to announce that it had signed up to the living wage in the last two months, as well as the National Gallery, the Southbank Centre and Somerset House.
Dr Ranger, who has won several awards from the Queen for business and innovation, also highlighted the role of staff retention in a company’s success.
“Every time a member of staff leaves their job due to poor wages, the business suffers immensely as it is very expensive and time consuming to train new staff.
“Every world class company underpins their success on a value system and empathy for their employees is one of them.”