BrewDog to stop paying new staff the 'real' living wage

The Scottish brewer informed staff of the changes in a letter.

BrewDog to stop paying new staff the ‘real’ living wage Getty Images

BrewDog is cutting the rate of pay for new employees as it drops support for the “real living wage”.

The Scottish brewer and pub brand will no longer use the rate to determine bar staff wages, an email sent to staff has revealed.

BrewDog, founded in Fraserburgh in 2007 by James Watt and Martin Dickie, has been a Real Living Wage Employer since 2015 after the issue of low pay “repeatedly” came up in annual staff surveys.

The Living Wage Foundation accredits employers that pay the rate “based on what people need to live”.

It says the “real living wage” across the UK is £12 per hour, and £13.15 per hour in London.

Changes to BrewDog’s pay structure will come in to effect from January 3 when new hires will be hired on the UK Government’s National Living Wage, the minimum for those aged 23 and over, which currently stands at £10.42 per hour.

The craft beer giant confirmed all current staff rates will remain unchanged, with the National Living Wage to rise from April to £11.44 per hour which the company will use.

Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation, said“We are disappointed that BrewDog have chosen to stop paying the real living wage.

“The independently calculated real living wage is the only UK wage rate based on the cost of living and it is voluntarily paid by over 14,000 organisations.

“Despite tough economic times, it’s been heartening to see record numbers of businesses join the movement. Since September 2022 alone, we have seen over 3,000 new employers accredit with the Living Wage Foundation.

“In addition, we have continued to grow our network of employers committed to good employment practices around stability and security of hours and adequate pension provision, with 100 Living Hours and nearly 25 Living Pension Employers now part of our movement.”

Bryan Simpson, Unite lead organiser for hospitality, said: “Brewdog have been paying the real living wage since 2015.

“To withdraw it now, during the most acute cost of living crisis in a generation is outrageous.

“We are already working with our Brewdog members across the country to collectively challenge this awful decision and force the senior management of the company to do the right thing by the workers who have made them millions.”   

BrewDog posted on its blog in 2019 about the business’ support for the real living wage, saying ethically it was “massively important”.

“Some companies may baulk at paying the Living Wage because of cost implications, pricing pressures or even the spectre of Brexit that hangs above all our heads – but our experience of the last five years is that by investing in the talented, skilled people who bring their passion and enthusiasm to work, the business case stacks up,” the post read.

“Above and beyond this, the ethical reasons for becoming a Living Wage Employer are massively important to us, as they should be to every other company out there.

James Watt: BrewDog say their benefits package is 'far more generous' than the industry average.STV News

“The real Living Wage is an independently-calculated rate that ensures workers can meet the cost of living and earn enough to support themselves and their families.

“It goes beyond the government’s Minimum Wage and we have proved over the last half-decade that employers in the food and drink sector who pay their employees fairly in this way can be a driver for growth for our entire industry.”

Yet “unprecedented challenges” in the hospitality sector have meant the company will be making changes.

A BrewDog spokesperson said: “As a result of the changes we’re making – and despite unprecedented challenges in the hospitality sector – our staff outside London will be getting a 4.95% increase in base pay, and crew currently working in London will be paid 4.5% above the National Living Wage.

“We have always been fully committed to doing the best we can for our people, and our benefits package is far more generous than the industry average. Last year we gave over £350,000 to our bars team via our unique profit share programme.

“Our team also benefits from a unique bonus scheme which sees all crew members receive an additional £1 an hour for the month for surpassing customer service standards. In addition, we offer signature benefits like ‘pawternity’ leave and paid sabbaticals after five years of service.

“We are proud to be one of the Sunday Times Best Places to Work, and we were named a Top UK Employer by the UK Top Employers Institute.”

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