Wage blow

BrewDog will not pay real living wage to new staff

BrewDog Lothian Road
BrewDog made a loss last year (pic: Terry Murden)

Brewer and pubs chain Brewdog will no longer pay new employees the real living wage as it attempts to return to profitability.

Instead, from April workers will receive the UK government’s national minimum wage of £11.44 an hour which is below the £12 cost of living-based rate.

The Aberdeenshire-based firm said the decision would help it return to profit after making a £24m operating loss last year.

Brewdog blamed the loss on increased production costs for its most popular product, Punk IPA, and rising energy bills at its Ellon plant.

Bryan Simpson, hospitality organiser of Unite, said: “To withdraw the real living wage 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.”

The living wage rate will increase to £12 an hour outside London and £13.15 for workers in the English capital on 1 April in line with inflation. Brewdog staff over the age of 23 will receive a slight pay rise, but only from £10.90 to £11.44. Those working in London will see no increase from their current rate of £11.95.

A spokesperson for the company 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”

In a social media post, CEO and co-founder James Watt admitted the company could not afford the latest hike.

James Watt
James Watt: we offer other benefits (pic: Terry Murden)

Mr Watt, who was recently in the Maldives with his Made in Chelsea partner, Georgia Toffolo, said: “Since March 2022 we have increased the wages of our UK bar teams by a huge 20.4%, this is well ahead of most industries and almost all of our competitors.

“With the Real Living Wage increasing by an additional 10% in April 2024 we could not implement this on top of all the other amazing things we do for our people whilst still offering fantastic value for our customers at a time where they have less disposable income to spend.

“We continue to invest way more in our people than our competitors. When you add up everything that we do for our people the value of the package is even more generous than Real Living Wage.

“We also do not use any zero-hour contracts which many of the businesses in our industry use.”

BrewDog is not alone as the hospitality sector in general faces difficulties with rising costs. There have been calls for the Scottish Government to match the rates relief south of the border, but Revolution Bars Group last week said it was shutting one in ten of its venues in England to reduce losses as a result of the new pay bands.

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