If $18.40 is considered to be a “living wage” for a family, should the single and childless be paid less?
Employers and Manufacturers Association CEO Kim Campbell has exposed fundamental flaws in the campaign launched by the Anglican Family Centre for a so-called “living wage.” The Anglican proposal of $18.40 gross per hour applies to an average family of 2 adults and 2 children, with one adult working fulltime and one working half-time. Their pay at this rate includes Govt payments such as Working for Families, accommodation supplements, and childcare assistance. Campbell says on this basis many people whose pay is currently based on $15 or $16 an hour already qualify as receiving a “living wage.”
Other groups appear to back the payment of $18.40 gross an hour with the welfare and support payments paid as well. If the top-ups are included the “average family” would receive the equivalent of over $20 gross an hour each. Another fundamental problem with the system proposed by the Anglican Family Centre for low paid workers being paid according to their family circumstances is totally different from the way everyone has been paid for their work.
“People are paid for their work, not for the size of their family. If $18.40 an hour was set as the right amount for a family of 4 with 1½ pay packets, a different rate would be needed for, say, a family of 6 with 1 pay packet, or a 2-person-2 income household, or a single person with 2 jobs. Calculating the many different ‘living wages’ would be a nightmare.” . . .
It would be iniquitous to pay people less because they needed less to support the sort of lifestyle a ‘living wage’ is predicated on.
But is it any better to pay people more than the job they do is worth because their needs, which have nothing at all to do with their work, are greater?
New Zealand would be better off if all wages and salaries were higher but increases must be based on what the work is worth not an artificial construct of what’s needed.