Comment: 'The NLW is a great opportunity to change industry perceptions'

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Comment: 'The NLW is a great opportunity to change industry perceptions'

Related tags National living wage Minimum wage

Confusion remains rife when it comes to the new national living wage (NLW), which comes into effect today (1 April), judging by the results of our exclusive survey of licensees.

A lack of understanding of even how much the new rate is and who it applies to is certainly something to be concerned about, along with the fact that one in seven respondents said they weren’t ready for the new legislation. We can only hope we don’t see a clutch of publicans falling foul of the new rules through lack of understanding.

I’d urge all of you to read our coverage of the new legislation​ and get up to speed asap. Ignorance of the law is no defence and avoiding applying it is only going to cost you more in the long run.


More worrying were the responses the trade is considering applying in the wake of the changes. More than half said they were going to either cut jobs or staff hours and up their own hours. There’s no easy answer to absorbing the increased costs of the NLW, but I can’t help but feel that cutting jobs or hours is the worst response, the most negative.

Cutting back on staff is going to affect your customer service, putting further strain on existing staff or your own time, and that could have a major knock-on effect to the bottom line of your business, as customers turn away in the face of lesser service.

Equally, cutting hours among the team will have a negative impact on staff morale. Telling the team they’re going to have to work, and earn less, is never going to be a boost, and yet again, that impact could easily trickle through to service standards and once more lead to a downturn in trade.

Let’s not forget, as one leading industry player said recently, “people make the pubs” and if you’re employing good staff that are paid good wages, you’re going to see the benefits to your business.


Another pitfall to be wary of in this case is age discrimination — a lot of respondents to the survey suggested that they would avoid employing people over 25. However, that is against the law and something that all pubs need to think hard about. It’s no good saving a few quid a day, only to find yourself facing a large fine down the line.

We constantly talk about the poor perception of our sector as an employer. The application of the National Living Wage, and our response to it is a great opportunity to buck that perception and show that we are a viable and forward-thinking industry.

There are other options to cutting staff and hours — think about efficiencies throughout your business.

Cutting things is never going to be a long-term solution — look at other areas of your operation, be honest with yourselves and get those right first.

Related topics Legislation

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