The Living Wage rate is voluntary and is paid by employers who want to make sure their workers get enough money to live with dignity. The current 2020/2021 Living Wage is $22.10, which will increase to $22.75 on 1 September 2021.
The first Living Wage campaign was launched in 2012 in Auckland and in Wellington followed by other local networks around the country. Supporting organisations joined forces around a statement of commitment to a Living Wage. More than 200 groups agreed:
"A Living Wage is the income necessary to provide workers and their families with the basic necessities of life. A living wage will enable workers to live with dignity and to participate as active citizens in society. We call upon the Government, employers and society as a whole to strive for a living wage for all households as a necessary and important step in the reduction of poverty in New Zealand.”
The Living Wage emerged as a response to growing poverty and inequality that continues to hold back so many Kiwi workers, their families and our economy. The Living Wage concept is very simple, yet such a powerful alternative – it’s the hourly wage a worker needs to pay for the necessities of life and participate as an active citizen in the community. It reflects the basic expenses of workers and their families such as food, transportation, housing and childcare, and is calculated independently each year by the New Zealand Family Centre Social Policy Unit.
In April 2013 an incorporated society was formed called Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ with a governance body and membership comprising the three streams of civil society: faith based religious groups, unions and community/secular groups. In the same year independent research by the Family Centre Social Policy Unit established the first Living Wage rate for New Zealand, $18.40 per hour. This was updated the following February 2014 to $18.80 per hour, in February 2016 to $19.80, in February 2017 to $20.20, in April 2018 to $20.55, in April 2019 to $21.15, in April 2020 to $22.10, and the new rate for 2021-22 that comes into force on September 1, $22.75 per hour.
The Living Wage Movement is not aligned to any political party but seeks to influence those who have the power to change the lives of workers and their families. The focus of attention is where incomes are funded through public money, and large employers who can afford to pay a Living Wage. Many small and ethical employers choose to pay a Living Wage and have become accredited.
The Living Wage Movement is grateful to the support of the JR McKenzie Trust which has funded two half time community organisers for four years in Wellington and Auckland and supported research on the impact of our residential training on the effectiveness of the Movement. The JR McKenzie Trust has become a Living Wage Employer ensuring it lives the values of justice as a businesses as well as in its extensive philanthropic work in Aotearoa NZ.