Westpac first bank in New Zealand accredited as 'Living Wage' employer

Westpac NZ has become New Zealand's first bank to be accredited as a Living Wage employer after committing to pay all contractors and suppliers the wage.

On Friday, Westpac NZ's general manager of consumer banking and wealth, Simon Power, said the company already paid its staff the living wage and now wanted to extend that to contracted workers like cleaners and security guards.

The Living Wage, deemed the income necessary to provide employees with the basic necessities of life, is currently $20.55 per hour - $4.05 more than the $16.50 minimum wage.

In December last year, it was announced the minimum wage will rise to $17.70 in April, a step closer to the Government's promise of a minimum wage of $20 by 2021.

The move is expected to benefit 480 workers, according to Westpac NZ's general manager of operations, Leanne Lazarus.

"We encourage other large organisations to look at whether this is something they can also do, or look at other ways they can improve working conditions through their supply chain," she said.

"Ultimately, we think it will benefit the economy and our business. But above all else, we think this is the right thing to do. These workers play an important role in our day-to-day operations and we value their efforts," said Mr Power.

The bank's external relations director, Sue Foley, told Newshub she hopes Westpac's move influences other companies to make a similar decision.

"We are really hoping that that message really gets through. If we can do it and it benefits 480 people, then if others do it down the stream, then you actually start to multiply," she said.

"There are some things that people take for granted. For a lot of people, having an extra $4 an hour, actually that is a big deal."

That call for other companies to follow was echoed by Annie Newman, the national convenor of Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ.

"We have always called on wealthy corporates to lead the way on the Living Wage, and we congratulate Westpac for setting an example to the many other corporates who should follow their lead," she said.


The changes will begin being implemented in 2019, with the final agreed milestones set down for 2020 and 2021.