University of Cambridge to seek Real Living Wage accreditation

Juliette Bretan 7 February 2018

The University of Cambridge will reinforce and extend its commitment to paying the Real Living Wage (RLW) following a motion to approve the proposal submitted today. The motion was passed in a joint consultation with various unions and Cambridge University Students Union (CUSU).

Since 2014, the University currently pays all directly employed University staff at the rate of or above the RLW, but on an informal basis. The motion passed today will allow the University to begin the formal accreditation process from the Living Wage Foundation, which may take up to three years to complete.

Ellis Ferran, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for institutional and international relations, commented: “We know that Cambridge is an expensive city to live and work in. The university is a community and it values all staff.  Accreditation will give our lowest-paid staff, including our on-site contractors, more security because their wage will be set by reference to the Real Living Wage benchmark.”

CUSU President Daisy Eyre said: “All of the workers at this University contribute to our education and deserve to be paid fairly. I am so proud of the work done by students campaigning for this and happy that the University will be taking this step. I believe that this will benefit the institution for years to come. By accrediting to the Living Wage Foundation, we are building a legacy in which future generations of Cambridge staff are guaranteed a decent wage.”

The RLW, also known as the Voluntary Living Wage, is an hourly rate of pay set by the Living Wage Foundation and updated annually in November. It is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. The RLW is set at £8.75 per hour outside London and £10.20 per hour for employers within London. It is different from the National Living Wage, set by the government at £7.30 for over 25s.

The move was also approved by Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge, and Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of the City Council. Daniel Zeichner MP said: ‚Äč “This is great news for all those working for the University and for the city of Cambridge as a whole. Cambridge University is a key employer and it is a significant step forward in this high-cost City that they will now be guaranteeing all their staff, including contractors, the Real Living Wage.

Zeichner also added: “Congratulations to the students, trade unions and staff that have supported this campaign and got us to this point. I think we can all be proud that with strong leadership from the City Council Cambridge has a growing list of employers becoming accredited Living Wage employers. I hope it is not long until all colleges follow the example set by the University today and sign up to the Real Living Wage.”

Cathy Yeasley, the branch secretary of one of the unions involved in the process, UNISON, added: “UNISON welcomes the decision by the University of Cambridge to seek official accreditation from the Living Wage Foundation. We would like to thank university staff and students for their support for the campaign which will ensure that all staff and contractors working at the University are guaranteed at least £8.75 per hour in one of the most expensive cities in the country.”