SSE: The UK’s biggest Living Wage employer

SSE plc has today become the UK’s biggest officially-accredited Living Wage employer – guaranteeing all employees at least £7.45 an hour.

Nearly 20,000 staff across the UK will receive at least the Living Wage rate, set at a level which ensures people can cover their basic cost of living including housing, bills, food and work travel.

SSE is the biggest British company by market capitalisation to introduce The Living Wage and one of only three in the FTSE 100.  It is also the first major energy company to sign-up to the Living Wage.

SSE Chief Executive Alistair Phillips-Davies said: “SSE is proud to become one of the first big companies to pay its employees the Living Wage.

“With a workforce of over 20,000, this demonstrates that we value the people who work for SSE very highly and we’re willing to pay them at a level which shows them we mean it.

“It also shows that SSE is a company which is serious about doing the right thing.  It is a matter of basic fairness that people should get a wage which is enough to cover their living expenses and SSE believes in being fair.”

SSE is the biggest generator of electricity from renewable sources in the UK and Ireland and the second biggest energy supplier in the UK with 9.5 million customer accounts.

The company, which supplies energy to customers under the Scottish Hydro, Southern Electric, SWALEC and Airtricity brands, leads the energy industry in customer service, as recognised by uSwitch seven years in a row.

SSE was also the first energy supplier to end door-step sales, end cold-calling by telephone and introduce a money-back customer service guarantee where it promises to meet the highest standards of service, or give customers money back off their next bill.

In total, 148 employees in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland have received a wage increase, averaging around £1000, as a result of the decision to become a Living Wage employer.  The increase has been backdated to April.

SSE will also ensure that its supply chain, worth over £2bn a year, will pay employees the Living Wage.  That means that everyone directly or indirectly employed by SSE will receive the rate.  This could see thousands more people benefit from the Living Wage. This will come into effect from April 2014.

At an event to mark SSE becoming a Living Wage employer at SSE’s Centre for Engineering Excellence in Renewable Energy in Glasgow today (Friday) Living Wage campaigners and politicians backed SSE’s decision to become a Living Wage employer.

Rhys Moore, Director of The Living Wage Foundation said: “The Living Wage Foundation is delighted that today SSE has signed up to become a Living Wage Employer. The success of the Living Wage campaign rests on this kind of leadership.

“Today’s announcement is a real milestone in the history of the Living Wage movement. We now have the first energy supplier, the first UK utility and the first company in the top third of the FTSE 100 to become an accredited Living Wage employer. The history of the Living Wage campaign teaches us that others will follow this lead.

“There are now close to 400 accredited Living Wage Employers across the UK, up from 70 this time last year. SSE’s accreditation is an example to other major employers to do the right thing and take a lead on the Living Wage.”

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon added: “We fully support the living wage campaign – it can make a real difference to people’s lives when they receive a fair wage.

“We are firmly of the view that employers should reward their staff fairly which is why all public sector staff under our direct control receive at least the Scottish Living Wage rate and will do for the duration of this Parliament.

“It is great news that SSE have adopted the Scottish Living Wage and we would encourage all public, private and third sector organisations to do likewise.”