Living wage resources

Recent resources, reports and research

ETI resources

  • ETI Base Code guidance: Living wages
    Practical guidance on implemeting living wages in global supply chains.

  • ETI’s expectations of members in relation to living wages
    In the face of the rise in global concern about low wages, increased casualisation of labour and the widening gap between high and low paid workers, we have clearly set out our expectations of our members in relation to the ETI Base Code clause stipulating that “Living wages are paid”, to which all companies sign up on becoming members. This should be read in conjunction with ETI’s living wage guidance.

  • With Living Wages in Global Supply Chains: a new agenda for business, the ETI's of Norway, Denmark and the UK aim to reposition the debate on living wages for companies within global supply chains. Instead of asking ‘how can I calculate living wage levels in my supply chain?” and “how can I get my suppliers to pay living wages?” it aims to help companies understand the wider wages landscape and their position and leverage within that landscape. 

Wages – general 

  • Steps towards a living wage in global supply chains  Almost a century after the ILO constitution recognized the need for workers to earn a living wage, this Oxfam paper outlines the compelling reasons for responsible companies to act now to raise wages that are inadequate to meet the needs of workers and their families. The paper looks at the positive steps taken in a range of sectors, and provides a framework for deeper change. It highlights initiatives already underway and aims to help companies which source from developing countries to understand the issue and what success looks like from an Oxfam perspective. It includes recommendations, signposts further reading and suggests indicators of good practice. Oxfam 2015

  • Global Wage report  looks at differences in wages around the globe and how they have been influenced by the economic crisis, giving a unique picture of wage trends and relative purchasing power across the world and by region and providing policy recommendations. ILO 2012-13

  • Why Companies That Pay Above the Minimum Wage Come Out Ahead. Forbes article featuring a study of four US retailers who compete head-on with companies that spend far less on their employees, and win.
  • The challenges and opportunities of living wages: Beyond the bottom lineIn light of the increasing scrutiny on living wages, this report presents a more rigorous and informed discussion on the issues, bringing new evidence to bear on the likely economic and social impact of more extensive living wage coverage, clarifying what living wages are and correcting some common misconceptions.

  • Living wage, a guide for employers Practical guidance for employers is provided in this paper by the Living Wage Foundation, including a history of the campaign, and an explanation what is involved in becoming a living wage employer and an outline of the benefits. Living Wage Foundation

Wages in the agricultural sector:

Wages in the garment sector. 

  • Global Dialogue Forum on Wages and Working Hours in the Clothing, Textile, Footwear and Leather industry An issues paper prepared for the Global Dialogue Forum involving representatives of workers, employers and government in September 2015 and points of consensus emerging from that dialogue. 
  • Climbing the Ladder to Living Wages provides an update on its research in 2011/12, looking at how a living wage is idefined / measured; how much payment of a living wage increases production costs, pricing along the supply chain, and retail pricing;  and what approaches are most effective in raising wages. Fair Wear Foundation. 
  • Living Wage Engineering A study by Fair Wear Foundation – with initial observations about the links between outdoor industry brand practices, wages, pricing, and the cost to consumers. Includes an explanation of the 'compound price escalation' phenomenon.
  • Let’s clean up fashion Labour Behind the Label's fifth annual report asking the UK's top high street retailers what they are doing to ensure the workers who make their clothes are paid a living wage.

Wages for farmers and artisans 

  • Fair Wages & Fair Prices  The European Fair Trade Association commissioned this study to identify a workable definition of fair prices & fair wages which is practical and realistic for farmers and artisans, particularly those outside the Fairtrade International system, and how fair prices & wages can be implemented. 

Living wage level calculation methodologies

It is important to look beyond definitions and calculation methodologies and to think about inclusive mechanisms to ensure that a living wage is a product of a process of negotiation which is able to respond to externalities over time, and how this is accommodated in the value chain. As part of this process it is vital to consider the particular rate of pay in a particular location and industry.

A number of organisations, including some of those running campaigns mentioned above, have suggested formulae for calculating what the living wage level in a particular country or area should be.

These formulae generally contain the following elements, although there are variations on, for example, what is defined as basic needs and how the discretionary income is calculated:

Basic needs x Average household (adult-equivalent units) / Number of wage earners in household + discretionary income

Living wage calculation methodologies: