The banking sector has become New Zealand’s first living wage-accredited industry, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Andrew Little announced today.
According to the New Zealand Bankers’ Association (NZBA), the move will lead to nearly 1800 employees and contractors moving onto the living wage and gaining greater economic independence for them and their families.
It comes as all 17 members of the NZBA and the association itself, have been fully accredited.
“I am pleased to see that workers and contractors in the banking sector will be paid at least the Living Wage. The banking sector is vital to the New Zealand economy and employs thousands of New Zealanders. This is a great decision, and it should be seen as an exemplar for other industries,” Mr Little said.
“Paying fair wages has obvious benefits for employees: it helps individuals and families put food on the table and live in a warm, healthy home, and reduces the need to work long hours just to scrape by. It enables workers to participate as active citizens in their communities,” he said.
The Living Wage is currently $21.15 per hour, and will increase to $22.10 per hour on 1 September 2020. It is set by an independent group, the Family Centre Social Policy Research Unit, based on the assessed needs of a family of two adults (one working 40 hours per week, and one working 20 hours per week) and two children.
“As one of the largest industries in the country, we are showing leadership by committing to paying the living wage,” New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Roger Beaumont said.
“I encourage all industries to, where possible, pay the living wage to their employees and contractors.”
NZBA research shows that almost 80 per cent of New Zealanders think the banking industry paying the living wage is a good idea and that it is important.
“New Zealanders clearly want their businesses to step up and pay a fair and decent wage. It’s the right thing to do,” Mr Beaumont said.
The 17 banks represented by NZBA range significantly in their size and scale, from employers of over 4000 people to small branches of global bank brands.
“There was no simple solution to accrediting every bank,” Mr Beaumont said.
“Large banks had huge numbers of contractors to work with while others had to get approval from international head offices. Navigating and, in some cases, seriously challenging those policies showed the effort everyone in the industry was willing to go through.”
Banks employ more than 25,000 people in New Zealand.
Last year banks spent $5.73 billion running their businesses in New Zealand, which includes purchasing local goods and services. The five major banks paid $2.7 billion to employees nationwide.