After establishing a Living Wage, the City of Brooks announced that Newell Housing Foundation has officially become a certified Living Wage Employer. This is the first employer to receive certification in the City of Brooks.
To be recognized as a certified living wage employer, a business or organization needs to pay its direct staff and indirect contract staff at least the living wage for Brooks ($19.05 per hour). Employers may offset the living wage rate by providing benefits that offset living costs, such as health care plans. For the purpose of qualifying for a living wage, an employee/contractor is someone who works a minimum of 120 hours/year for your organization.
Living Wage Employers experience a decrease in employee turnover and absenteeism, increased retention and productivity, and savings on rehiring and retraining. Employers can also use the living wage as a tool within their recruitment strategy for lower paying occupations. Living Wage Employers receive public recognition for demonstrating a commitment to socially responsible practices, making them more attractive to potential employees and customers.
“We’re so proud to receive this certification and make this commitment to our staff. We have noticed a low staff turnover rate, higher productivity, a better team environment and a happier staff as we are paying the higher wages. Our staff know that we care about them and in turn they care about the job they are performing,” says Sasha Loewen, Chief Administrative Officer for the Newell Housing Foundation.
The Newell Housing Foundation has 83 employees, making it one of the larger Living Wage Employers in Alberta. They have committed to paying all of their staff the living wage while also offering paid benefits and time off – truly going above and beyond for the employees. They will be displaying the Living Wage Employer decal in their window to help spread the word.
Interested in learning more about becoming a certified Living Wage Employer? There's a handy Employer Guide available on the Alberta Living Wage Network (ALWN) website that you can refer to. Here are the steps that businesses/organizations follow:
- Determine if you already pay a living wage as your base pay
- Check out the living wage rates and determine if your base pay is already at or above the rate for Brooks ($19.05).
- If you already pay a living wage through your base pay alone, you can go ahead and fill out the online application form. The ALWN will review it and respond within a week.
- If your base pay is below a living wage, but you offer benefits, perks, and/or paid time off above the legislated minimum, reach out to the ALWN and they will send you a list of questions that will help calculate your total compensation (base wage + extras).
- If you do not currently pay a living wage (total compensation), you can draft a Living Wage Implementation Plan (see an example on page 7 of the Employer Guide), and the ALWN will work with you to determine the path forward.
- If everything in the online application form looks good, ALWN will send you an Agreement to fill out and sign.
- Once the agreement is signed, they will send you a welcome email within a week. The email will include a certificate, a digital logo you can use (on your website, social media, job ads etc.), you'll be added to the directory on the website, and they’ll send you window decals if requested.
There is a small fee to become certified and it varies based on the size and sector of your business/organization. Rates start at $50/year for the non-profit and private sector with fewer than 10 employees. Fee breakdowns can be found in the Employer Guide.
Being a living wage employer not only increases a business' standing in the community, it's also a solid economic development strategy. You’re helping to build a strong local economy and supporting sustainable and healthy communities.