In a bold move to add to its ever-growing reputation among shoppers, Aldi has announced that it will award store staff a basic £8.40 per hour minimum wage from February 2016.
The German company has responded to rivals including Lidl and Morrisons – which recently revealed they would be upping their wages to a minimum of £8.20 an hour – and will implement its market-leading rates from February 1st.
Furthermore, staff working in London stores will be paid a minimum of £9.45 an hour, while those employed by the chain in the Republic of Ireland will receive a minimum hourly rate of pay of €11.50 (£8.26). Aldi already pays store assistants a minimum rate of £8.15 per hour, with break times also paid for by the company.
The new wages follow the somewhat controversial announcement from George Osborne, who instituted a suggested living wage of £7.20 an hour for anyone in employment over the age of 25. It led to a public outcry over the possibility that in future, when the living wage would be officially put in place, it would not be enough to support the average worker.
Aldi’s move seems as much of a competitive thing as one about providing for its staff. In a statement to accompany the announcement, Aldi fired a shot at Lidl, claiming that its new pay scheme was “significantly higher than the hourly pay offered by all other British supermarkets”, adding that it continued to be the “best supermarket employer in Britain”.
Matthew Barnes, head of Aldi UK, said: “Just as Aldi won’t be beaten on the low prices of our products, we are also committed to offering the best pay and benefits in the industry. The success of Aldi in the UK and Ireland has been driven by the commitment, hard work and ambition of our employees and we will continue to maintain our leading position on pay.”
The move drew praise from Living Wage Foundation director Sarah Vero. She said: “[Aldi’s] bold move demonstrates that paying the living wage in retail is achievable, despite other major supermarket chains telling campaigners that higher wages for the lowest paid are simply not possible. The economic climate has shifted. It’s time for business to recognise we need a recovery for all.”
Aldi recently opened its 600th store in Cardiff and has plans to expand to 1,000 stores across the UK by the end of 2022. It also announced that it has plans to recruit and train 600 new apprentices from next year.