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The case for living wages 2.68 MB

The payment of living wages remains one of the most powerful routes to help people out of poverty, start to tackle inequality, realise human rights and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is growing recognition that poverty wages pose a significant barrier to progress on all these issues.

This paper shows an exciting new momentum towards living wages, coming from businesses, investors and numerous civil society organisations. A vanguard of leading companies is moving beyond statutory minimum wages to ensure that workers are paid enough to achieve financial security. Importantly, this trend is spreading beyond commitments to employees and workers in core operations, to workers in local and global value chains.

However, too many businesses still see living wages as a challenge rather than an opportunity. This paper seeks to change the narrative. It provides a new perspective on what paying living wages offers to companies and demonstrates that living wages generate a wealth of benefits to workers, businesses and society.

Living wages offer companies a suite of business benefits. These wide-ranging benefits can at once improve value chain reliability and quality, boost employee health and well-being, while also contributing to a positive multiplier effect in the local economies in which living wages are paid.

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