Legal Business Blogs

‘Makes absolute business sense’: City firms up their game with living wage commitments

Most of the UK top 20 firms are officially credited as paying the Living Wage after the scheme was endorsed by the Law Society in 2013.

Employers can choose to pay the real living wage, which this week was moved to £9.75 per hour for London and £8.45 per hour for the rest of the UK on a voluntary basis. This compares with the government’s current living wage which is £7.20 per hour.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is the only Magic Circle firm not to subscribe to the Living Wage Foundation’s accreditation service, however the firm says it pays employees and subcontractors the national living wage.

The real living wage is independently-calculated each year on 1 November and accredited companies have six months to adjust to the new rate.

The charity which runs the scheme describes law firms as ‘early leaders’ in terms of becoming accredited to the fair pay scheme following endorsement by the Law Society in 2013.

Linklaters is among the principal partners of the charity while most of the top 20 UK ranked firms including Berwin Leighton Paisner, Dentons, Herbert Smith Freehills, Mishcon De Reya and Hogan Lovells have signed up.

To date more than 90 law firms, barristers chambers and related organisations are signed up to the fair pay scheme, with DLA Piper latest to join last week.

Berwin Leighton Paisner head of corporate responsibility Alison Klarfeld said: ‘As a major law firm, we want to ensure that everyone who works for us, directly or indirectly, is fairly remunerated. As well as being the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense. We will ensure that everyone who works for BLP’s UK offices will be benefit from the increase announced yesterday within six months.’

A Freshfields spokesperson said: ‘Freshfields fully supports both the National Living Wage and London Living Wage initiatives and since October 2010 has ensured all of its employees, including subcontractors, are paid, at minimum, the Living Wage within six months of any increases being announced’.

Linklaters global head of corporate responsibility Matt Sparkes added: ‘It is not just the right thing to do, it makes absolute business sense. It ensures that we attract and retain the best and most motivated people, whether directly employed by us or by others. We want good people and the Living Wage is an excellent way of getting and keeping them.