Budget supermarket chain Lidl has announced that it will start paying UK employees the minimum wage as recommended by the Living Wage Foundation. This will make it the first UK supermarket to take the step.
From October, Lidl UK employees will earn a minimum of £8.20 an hour in England Scotland and Wales. In London, the minimum wage paid will be £9.35.
The rate recommended by the Living Wage Foundation is different from the National Living Wage, which was set out in the chancellor's summer budget. The foundation says it plans to update its recommendations in November and Lidl says it will adjust its minimum wage accordingly.
Currently, Lidl employees earn a minimum of £7.30 an hour (£8.03 an hour inside London). The Living Wage Foundation's current minimum hourly rate is £7.85 and £9.15 for London. In comparison, the National Living Wage is set to be £7.20 an hour from April 2016 for people aged over 25.
According to Lidl, its new pay rate will lead to an average wage increase of £1,200 a year. The supermarket added that more than half (53 per cent) of its 17,000-strong UK workforce would benefit from the rise.
Best paid supermarket employees
Ronny Gottschlich, chief executive of Lidl UK, said that the wage increase would result in Lidl employees being "amongst the best paid in the supermarket sector".
The director of the Living Wage Foundation, Rhys Moore told the BBC that he was "thrilled" with the announcement.
"We've been working with and trying to persuade the retail sector to commit to pay the living wage rates rather than National Minimum Wage," he said, adding that none of the big four supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons) currently pay the living wage rates. He said he believes the British Retail Consortium is "behind the curve" on wages and praised Lidl's decision.
"Lidl is demonstrating this commitment to staff, and customers want to know that they're shopping in places which treat their staff well," he explained.
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