The living wage: Can cosmetics companies afford not to pay it?

By Julia Wray | Published: 27-Oct-2022

With the cost of living skyrocketing, ethical employers in the beauty sector can now ensure they are paying their staff worldwide enough to get by

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‘People delay turning heating on as UK inflation soars’; ‘Watchdog warns over eating food past use-by date amid UK cost of living squeeze’; ‘UK inflation hits 40-year high of 10.1%’.

In the 24-hour period before this writer sat down to pen the piece you are reading, these were the headlines for articles published by the BBC, The Guardian and the Financial Times, respectively.

We are all in for a tough winter and with the global, as well as the UK, population feeling the pinch, cosmetics industry players are acting to ensure their employees are not left struggling.

Superdrug, for instance, this summer, announced that to support the financial wellbeing of its employees, it would give staff a minimum of 30% off own brand items and 10% off branded products.

Additionally, the AS Watson-owned retailer moved its fuel reimbursement for employees to above the HMRC advisory rate, covering the taxable element to support those who travel for work.

Meanwhile, the likes of Unilever, Lush and L’Occitane are all Real Living Wage employers, as accredited by the Living Wage Foundation.

As of 22 September 2022, the UK’s living wage rose to £10.90 (£11.95 in London), presenting a stark contrast to the country’s current statutory minimum wage of £9.50 for over 23s and £9.18 for those between 21 and 23.

But what exactly is a living wage, and what bare minimum should employees offer their workers in order to simply survive?

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