- Professor Rosalind Searle, Professor of HRM and organisational Psychology, University of Glasgow
- Dr Ishbel McWha-Hermann, Lecturer in International Human Resource Management, University of Edinburgh
Work should lift people out of poverty – but, increasingly, those in low-paid jobs are suffering as much as the unemployed. The Living Wage offers a solution. It is a wage sufficient to live a decent standard of life, independent of welfare and other public subsidies. While some have previously argued that living wages distort labour markets and increase organisational costs, our review offers an alternative perspective.
The results show that poor-quality work has a more detrimental impact on health than unemployment. According to research, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate accumulative impact among low-paid workers, in both health and precarious work. In light of this, a living wage is even more vital.
Until now, the study of living wages has been the preserve of economists. But work psychologists, sociologists and management scholars are now examining the subject from a different perspective which focuses on the individual. Precarious work removes the responsibility from employers and forces significant costs on to individuals – and society, which has to make up for the shortfall out of government subsidies. Low-paid, poor-quality, depleting work needs to be recognised for what it is: unsustainable, deeply damaging and costly for any society.
Our review, an assessment of 115 papers of interdisciplinary living wage research, reveals three important reasons to support the normalisation of a living wage.
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