Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


University outlines living wage benefits

March 2009

A university college that has introduced a ‘living wage’ for cleaners has published a document outlining the business benefits the decision has brought.

Queen Mary, University of London says the higher wage levels, fixed a year ago, have led to improved staff morale, increased productivity and
better quality work.

The college, which specializes in science and engineering, humanities, social sciences and law, introduced the level of £7.45 an hour – 35 per cent higher than the legal UK minimum wage – in January 2008 after taking most of its cleaning in-house. The pay was set according to guide figures from the London mayor’s office.  

Queen Mary said it had issued the report to show other employers that a living wage could be beneficial to their business as well as to staff members. The study was based on interviews with 73 cleaning employees, a questionnaire completed by 292 non-cleaning staff from the college’s four campuses, and interviews with about a dozen managers.

Results showed three-quarters of respondents felt the living wage policy was not just ethically sound but had brought about higher cleaning standards. About two-thirds of the cleaners claimed they now worked more productively and completed a broader range of tasks, while 89 per cent of those who had transferred from other contractors rated the college a ‘better employer’.

The college concluded that the living wage ‘has not been the big drain on resources’ that some had feared – and that through quality and productivity improvements the cost had risen only slightly.

Queen Mary University of London | UK & NI Ireland | Employee relations

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