Banking becomes first living wage accredited industry

Banking has become New Zealand’s first fully living wage accredited industry, leading to nearly 1800 employees and contractors moving onto the living wage and gaining greater economic independence for them and their families.

As of today, all 17 members of the New Zealand Bankers’ Association, and the association itself, have been fully accredited.

“As one of the largest industries in the country, we are showing leadership by committing to paying the living wage,” says New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Roger Beaumont. “I encourage all industries to, where possible, pay the living wage to their employees and contractors.”

NZBA research shows that almost 80% of New Zealanders think the banking industry paying the living wage is a good idea and that it is important.

“New Zealanders clearly want their businesses to step up and pay a fair and decent wage. It’s the right thing to do,” says Beaumont.

“This is the first time we have had a whole sector showing leadership around a Living Wage and that is really something to celebrate,” says Annie Newman, Living Wage National Convenor.

“Banks are leading the way for many other sectors that could afford to follow suit and that’s important at a time when across the country so many workers are struggling during this COVID crisis. The message is, if you work in a bank you will be paid a decent wage whether you are a bank employee, a security guard or a cleaner. That’s fantastic.”

The 17 banks represented by NZBA range significantly in their size and scale, from employers of over 4000 people to small branches of global bank brands.

“There was no simple solution to accrediting every bank,” says Beaumont. “Large banks had huge numbers of contractors to work with while others had to get approval from international head offices. Navigating and, in some cases, seriously challenging those policies showed the effort everyone in the industry was willing to go through.”

Banks employ more than 25,000 people in New Zealand. Last year banks spent $5.73 billion running their businesses here, which includes purchasing local goods and services. The five major banks paid $2.7 billion to employees nationwide.