Retailers who wish to retain staff but are not able to pay the recommended living wage are increasingly offering additional perks to supplement their employees’ wages.

Leanne McGowan of Icon Stores, Aberdeen, told RN that while she would like
to pay staff the recommended living wage, she estimates it would cost her an extra £20,000 per year to raise wages by 30p.

To bridge the gap and retain her workforce, she has opted to offer her staff a range of perks such as AA breakdown cover and a Tastecard. The benefits are accessed via a scheme called Perkbox, which launched in the UK in June and allows small business owners to offer staff discounts and benefits only previously available to corporates.

High Wycombe retailer Raaj Chandarana said he also offers his staff benefits, including mobile phone insurance, two for one restaurant deals, cinema vouchers and cashback at many high street stores.

He said: “I will always abide by the law. When the minimum wage increases I will fall in line. Until then, I will also do what I can to keep staff loyal and improve their morale.

“I’ve found giving them perks is affordable and they like it too. Anyone who is able to pay their staff a living wage must be charging their customers way over the odds, so this works for me.”

The national minimum wage currently stands at £6.50 and will rise to £6.70 next month. The National Living Wage of £7.20 for over-25s will be introduced in April 2016.

The current recommended living wage, set by the independent Living Wage Foundation, is £7.85.