IN a traditionally low-paid industry, one company working in the care sector is seeing the benefits of paying the Living Wage.

Trust Recruitment supply nurses, care assistants and support workers to various care organisations in central Scotland and also provide healthcare training to several clients around the country.

The firm has always paid well above the minimum wage but it decided to go one step further by becoming an accredited Living Wage employer to show its commitment to both its staff and its customers.

“We decided that we wanted to pay the living wage for two reasons,” explained director Joanne Sullivan.

“First, we believe that our workers do an incredibly important job in caring for vulnerable adults. It can be quite difficult and challenging, both physically and emotionally, so the staff deserve to be paid a fair wage that reflects this.

“The second reason is to do with our customers. It is crucially important to us that the care received by our customers is of the highest quality. We aim to match staff to customers based on their skills and experience, so that they can build relationships and deliver the best care.

"For this reason, it is important that our staff stay with us over a long period so customers have continuity of care.”

The company employs about 40 people who are “delighted” with the Trust’s commitment to paying the Living Wage.

Sullivan said: “Although we had already been paying well above the minimum wage, they were happy to know that they were guaranteed to always be paid fair wages. Many of them commented that they felt really valued by us and appreciated for the work they do.”

Being Living Wage-accredited is also important for the company’s image as a fair employer, according to Sullivan.

“We provide staff to the healthcare sector and many of our customers really value our staff and like to know they are being well paid,” she said.

The company has reaped “enormous benefit” from paying the Living Wage and it is hoped that other employers will follow suit.

“For standard recruitment agencies, it is unusual to be a Living Wage employer,” Sullivan said. “They often cover several different sectors so it would be difficult for them to guarantee everyone that rate. As a nursing agency, we specialise in healthcare.

“People in this sector are often paid quite low wages. It is not unusual for care workers to be paid the minimum wage. Although we have seen this improve over the last couple of years, it is still typically a low-paid role, unfortunately.

“We have seen an enormous benefit from becoming a Living Wage employer. It is so important that people who want to work in healthcare aren’t discouraged because the wages they get aren’t enough to look after them and their families.”

The real Living Wage of at least £8.45 per hour is significantly higher than the government minimum wage of £6.70 and the new minimum wage premium for over-25s of £7.50 per hour introduced last April.

The real Living Wage is calculated annually by the Resolution Foundation and overseen by the Living Wage Commission, based on the best available evidence on living standards in the UK. The real Living Wage applies to everyone over the age of 18.

More than 3000 employers across the UK have pledged to pay the real Living Wage, more than 800 of them in Scotland.