Banking becomes first living wage accredited industry

Nearly 1800 employees and contractors move on to living wage. 

Banking has become New Zealand’s first fully living wage accredited industry, leading to nearly 1800 employees and contractors moving onto the living wage.

As of today, all 17 members of the New Zealand Bankers’ Association, and the association itself, have been fully accredited.

“As one of the largest industries in the country, we are showing leadership by committing to paying the living wage,” says New Zealand Bankers’ Association CEO, Roger Beaumont.

“I encourage all industries to, where possible, pay the living wage to their employees and contractors.”

NZBA research shows that almost 80 per cent of New Zealanders think the banking industry paying the living wage is a good idea and that it is important.

“New Zealanders clearly want their businesses to step up and pay a fair and decent wage. It’s the right thing to do,” said Beaumont.

A spokesperson for Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ, Marlon Drake, said this is a milestone for the movement that began with 10, small to medium sized businesses, coming on board in 2014.

Westpac was the first bank to sign the license to become an accredited Living Wage Employer and since then the Bankers Association has led the way to ensure the whole sector meets this minimum standard, Marlon said.

“The Living Wage is part of being a socially responsible business and the banks have shown it is possible to move as a whole sector to do what’s good for the workers, good for the economy and also good for business,” Marlon said.

“The Living Wage Movement is on a roll and with leadership like this the Living Wage is set to become mainstream in the private sector.”

“Extensive international research and a growing body of New Zealand research showed workers who are paid the Living Wage have better morale, less absenteeism and greater productivity. There is also a business advantage in being labelled a Living Wage employer. But, above all, it is simply the right thing to do,” he said.

The 17 banks represented by NZBA range significantly in their size and scale, from employers of over 4000 people to small branches of global bank brands.

“There was no simple solution to accrediting every bank,” said Beaumont.

“Large banks had huge numbers of contractors to work with while others had to get approval from international head offices. Navigating and, in some cases, seriously challenging those policies showed the effort everyone in the industry was willing to go through.”

Banks employ more than 25,000 people in New Zealand. Last year banks spent $5.73 billion running their businesses here, which includes purchasing local goods and services. The five major banks paid $2.7 billion to employees nationwide.

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