Northern Ireland Executive to become Living Wage employer

Pledge made in agreement restoring power sharing at Stormont

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith set out details of new power-sharing deal at Stormont. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

By Richard Johnstone

16 Jan 2020

The Northern Ireland executive is set to become a Living Wage employer after the pledge was included in an agreement that led to the return of politicians to Stormont.

The pledge is included in the New Decade, New Approach deal, which was agreed by the UK and Irish governments as well as the five main Northern Ireland parties and ended the three years of civil servants running the executive.

The document says that the governments “agree that the executive should commit to becoming a Living Wage employer”. The living wage as set by the Living Wage Foundation is £9.30 an hour, above the £8.21 government-mandated minimum wage for over-25s.


The agreement, which  led to the reformation of the executive under first minster Arlene Foster and deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill, also said that the executive should move to ban zero-hours contracts. The UK government also said powers to set minimum wage levels would be devolved.

Gavin Kelly, chair of both the Living Wage Commission and the Resolution Foundation think tank, said it was a great commitment, and asked: “Why can't Whitehall do the same?”

Important footnote to Stormont deal.

As well as proposing the minimum wage be devolved (with massive implications across the UK...), it also commits the NI Executive to becoming a real Living Wage employer.

Great commitment.

Why can't Whitehall do the same?@LivingWageUK

— Gavin Kelly (@GavinJKelly1) 14 January 2020

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