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Companies are refusing to meet the living wage for their employeesvia retaildesignblog.net

UK retail stores refuse to pay living wage

Major high street outlets won't pay workers an hourly rate of £7.85

Retail stores are refusing to pay workers at the living wage of £7.85, so if you’re looking to stay living comfortably in the city you might have to think again (or get more than one job). For students scraping by on a loan and desperately seeking part-time work, living in London and working in retail just isn’t doable when you’re not paid right. Young people are expected to work hard for major companies, but it doesn't seem like their efforts are being reciprocated fairly.

According to Citizens UK, a charity that set up the Living Wage Foundation – working in retail puts you in the biggest group of low-paid staff. At £9.15 an hour in London and £7.85 around the country, the national living wage is a guide intended to help employers understand what they need to part with to ensure that their workers can actually lead a decent life. It's an issue some employers are tackling, but retail workers are suffering. With rent and travel costs sky high, working and getting there just isn’t possible if the pay is pittance.

A 20-year-old retail worker and student from London battles the commute every morning to serve customers at a West End store in order to pay her rising bills. “Growing up in London, I’ve become accustomed to how expensive it is here and first hand see how much I need my job,” she says, relying on her retail job just to cover the costs of life in the city. “The wage and pressures of retail are pretty bad, she says, sticking with a shop assistant job so she can scrape each month’s bills. Another department store assistant from Brighton told us that pay in retail is by far the worst: “I need to work at least 5 hours just to cover my transport,” she says. She's paid £5.30 an hour.

Although smaller retailers such as Lush have agreed to pay their staff at the recommended living wage, there is still a huge handful of big names that think they can get away with it: Tesco, Waitrose and Next are just some stores who avoid paying their staff adequately. Tesco's justification for incorrectly paying staff is blamed on its inability to actually calculate the living wage, the economic crisis and because no one chases them up about it. In other words, they probably don’t care.

Do you work in retail and feel you're underpaid? Let us know.