Barclays Bank announced today that is to pay all employees the living wage. Currently around 14,000 employees at the bank are paid more than £100,000. From next month they will be paid the living wage which is £8.80 in London and £7.65 elsewhere.
On top of the living wage high performers will also be awarded bonus payments of up to £2 per hour subject to meeting performance criteria. At a maximum of 25 per cent of salary, the move is well within bonus limits of 200 per cent of salary placed on financial organisations by the European Banking Authority. Additional payments that some bankers receive such as annual season ticket travel loans, free eye tests and bike purchase schemes are not included in the bonus limits.
Barclays shares dropped significantly on the news, however it seems most of the trading activity were Barclays bankers selling personal shares in the company so that they would be able to pay the next month’s mortgage. One banker told us that he has mortgage payments on a two million pound house in Putney, so obviously the pay changes will affect him quite a lot. Another banker was a bit more blunt. ‘I’m furious. I got into banking to make money. I have no other ambition or interest in life. I am useless without my pay packet. I don’t know what I will do.’ Some bankers have suggested that they will not turn up to work tomorrow, and not because they have taken annual leave, while others suggested they will refuse to work the ultra-long hours that are common in the City. The long hours culture in practice means that many bankers often work even when they are asleep.
Barclays responded to criticism from well paid staff by saying that ‘the introduction of the living wage follows a long and detailed internal review of wages. We discussed the living wage extensively with senior bankers including a survey answered by more than 2,000 of our most highly paid staff, 80 per cent of whom were in favour of it. So naturally we are surprised that there might be this level of criticism in practice.’