Living with the NLW

The new minimum wage rate of £7.20 for workers aged 25 and over was introduced at the beginning of April.
The new minimum wage rate of £7.20 for workers aged 25 and over was introduced at the beginning of April.

A month on from its implementation, how are Scotland’s convenience retailers coping with the introduction of the new National Living Wage?
Announced by Chancellor George Osborne as part of his 2015 Budget, the new rate of £7.20 per hour for all employees aged 25 and over came into force on April 1.
Prior to its implementation, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) warned that 60% of stores in the sector would look to reduce the number of staff hours in their business.
Smartways Motherwell retailer Asif Ashraf said he had not decreased hours drastically, but had streamlined where possible.
“We went through our EPOS system to find our busiest times and where we could afford to take people away we’ve done that, but we haven’t cut hours as much as I thought we would,” he said.
“We’re looking at the store as a whole, rearranging it to push food more and get the sales mix a bit healthier. If we can increase our turnover by an extra £40,000 a year we should make up the difference.”
Aberdeenshire-based retailer Sid Ali said he didn’t think the government appreciated the precarious position many businesses are in.
“It has a knock-on effect on us because nobody in our organisation receives the minimum wage once they’ve passed their trial period,” he said.
“So we’ve had to go back to the rotas and refined them to try and get a bit more flexibility. For instance, instead of having three members of staff sitting around for two hours waiting for a delivery, we now call them in once the lorry arrives. We’ve also looked for places where there were overlaps. We’re having to do a lot of juggling around.”
Shah Saleem, of Day Today Overtown, said the government had created a situation that practically encouraged retailers to employ younger staff, though when the minimum wage for under-25s goes up in October, they may again be faced with cutting hours.
He said: “You just need to streamline your business, it’s as simple as that. If there’s no increase in your sales to cover it, then you have to structure it so staff aren’t in at quiet times, introduce split shifts, whatever you need to do.”