In February, Daily Telegraph journalist Rupert Neate reported a clash between two think tanks on the always controversial topic of the minimum wage.
Neate’s article stated that Steve Coulter, of the Social Market Foundation, had made the suggestion that the Government should raise the minimum wage. Coulter, who is the economics analyst for BBC News, said that the increase would encourage employers to acquire employees with more refined skills and qualifications. He assured that a skilled and better-paid workforce would also result in an increase in productivity in the workplace.
This was refuted by Sam Bowman, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute, who argued that if the Government increased the minimum wage it would create even more unemployment. He argued that workers are paid in proportion to the value of their labour, and that some jobs are not worth a higher paid rate. For example, in the cleaning industry people do not pay very much for cleaning, so it is very common for most daily cleaners to be paid minimum wage.
It is attitudes like Bowman’s that puts cleaning contractors such as ourselves in a very difficult position. If we accepted this theory, we would never be able to pay our daily cleaners a substantial wage, otherwise we would be in fear of losing money overall.
We are however, fully aware that the minimum wage completely undervalues how hard our cleaning staff work, and therefore pay our cleaners as much over the minimum wage as we are able to. As already stated in previous blogs, the minimum wage is not a living wage; you couldn’t pay rent, a mortgage, bills, give your children everything they need and put food on the table on that alone. No-one deserves to be working on a minimum amount, and this include cleaners who work extremely hard, undertaking unpleasant tasks that for a wage many would deem unacceptable. At Newlife Cleaning Systems, we believe that cleaners deserve more for what they do.
How do we achieve that? Well in terms of the above think tank debate, I have already stated that I agree with raising the minimum wage. I also agree that it is important for employees to gain as many skills and qualifications as possible, to improve their chances of earning more than the minimum wage. Employees legally have the right to request appropriate and relevant training from their employers, and we support that. We therefore have training available for our cleaning staff, if they require it, to enable themselves to become more qualified in what they do so well.
As we have suggested before, another way to pay above the minimum wage, especially in the cleaning industry, could be to change the way each job is priced. The most common procedure is to price a job depending on how long it will take to complete, in which the hourly cost of labour is also taken into account. If instead, each job is priced depending on a promised result, rather than time it will take, you can incorporate a higher wage for the staff.
For us, the way forward with the minimum wage debate sees us placed firmly in Steve Coulter’s camp, as we think raising it is very important. However businesses can help it along, by providing as many training opportunities as possible and by pricing their work differently, so they can afford to reward their staff’s hard work.
For more information on doing this, visit www.newlifecleaning.com.
Original article can be found at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/8351143/Think-tanks-clash-on-minimum-wage.html