Guest Blog: Gary Fairley, Midlothian Council
Midlothian Council is the largest employer in Midlothian, as well as being one of the smallest but fastest growing local authorities in Scotland. Our vision is that Midlothian is ‘A Great Place to Grow‘.
In 2015 the national pay agreement committed local authorities to link starting salaries to the real Living Wage. Whilst some local authorities simply applied the uplift as a supplement, Midlothian Council embraced the philosophy of the real Living Wage and became an accredited Living Wage Employer in 2016. Our vision underpinned by our commitment to the real Living Wage, resulted in organisational transformation that all of our employees could relate to and the necessary culture change to deliver the best possible services across our communities.
For example, introducing the real Living Wage into our reward structure has helped to narrow the gender pay gap and has reduced employees’ reliance on premium rate overtime to make ends meet. This has allowed staff to achieve a work life balance that is right for them. As a result, this has enabled staff to participate in lifelong learning, in turn opening additional career and promotional opportunities. Paying the real Living Wage has also had a positive impact on local businesses and our economy as most frontline employees who have benefited from the changes are resident in Midlothian.
Development of policies to put our people at the core of the organisation has helped support employees to be more engaged and motivated at work. These positive changes were supported and championed by the entire leadership team at Midlothian Council, and were subsequently presented at a COSLA/Society of Personnel and Development Scotland (SPDS) Living Wage Seminar. This prompted contact from other local authorities interested in learning from our success and the example we set as a real Living Wage Employer.
“A Great Place to Grow” extends beyond our employees. Fair working practices are embedded into the award criteria for all appropriate council contracts, encouraging and supporting the whole supply chain to pay the real Living Wage. We proudly display our Living Wage accreditation on all our recruitment material, encouraging our supply chain to make steps towards achieving accreditation with the Living Wage Foundation. A key focus for us has been the low paid care sector where our commitment to the Living Wage has enabled Midlothian and our partner providers to champion, promote and develop good career opportunities for all care workers in the community. Midlothian Council are committed to continuing to champion the real Living Wage and hope that more employers in Midlothian and beyond will join the growing Living Wage movement too.
Gary Fairley, Head of Finance and Integrated Service Support at Midlothian Council
Midlothian Council are shortlisted for the Living Wage Innovation Award in the 2018 Living Wage Champion Awards. The Awards celebrate individuals and organisations that have made an outstanding contribution to the Living Wage movement, find out more here.