Since we started our business over 30 years ago we have paid our staff higher than the Alberta ‘minimum wage’. For several years we pursued achieving the Edmonton/Alberta Living Wage for all employees. We have always paid one dollar more than the minimum wage but felt that was not enough.
When the Alberta NDP government raised the minimum wage to 15$ we were already there. When the UCP government reduced the minimum wage of younger people we did not do this.
How can a business pay someone lower for doing the same work based on their age? Well, they did and they do! This is well proven by the gender pay gap. Unequal pay based on sex. If it is unfair to pay one person one rate and another person a higher or lower rate based on sex, then it is also unfair/disrespectful to do so based on their age.
The only qualifiers are – education/experience, years of employment, level of responsibility, etc.
That all being said, we wanted to be better than the minimum. We wanted to offer our staff the Living Wage. We contacted the Edmonton Social Planning Council and they let us know that in 2019 it was 17.69$ per hour. This did not include vacation pay (we provide 6% vacation pay right from the beginning compared to the standard 4% that most companies pay and the government dictates) in the total. So the base wage that we needed to achieve was 16.63$.
We did this. (See my post from June 2018). A person that did not have experience would be hired for 15$ an hour and after their standard three-month probation period they would be paid 16.63$ per hour. A person that had experience would receive a higher starting wage.
In 2021, the rate that people would achieve at the end of their three-month probation was raised to 17$.
I wrote a blog post back in 2015 regarding my concerns about the minimum wage. My biggest concern back then was that it removed room for small independent businesses like ours to give periodic increases for the people that work with us for longer periods of time. Here is the link to that post. This is still a concern of mine.
In 2021, the Edmonton Social Planning Council produced a new assessment of the Edmonton living wage. They worked with the Alberta Living Wage Network to arrive at the new figure of 18.10$. They assessed our business and our pay rates and awarded us with their seal of approval. They sent us some decals that we display on our door.
When a person has worked with us for one full year, their pay rate is raised to 17.50$ per hour. If they have been cross-trained in a second department they earn an extra 25 cents per hour.
To honour those people that stay with us for a second year or more we have implemented a yearly increase of 25 cents (capped at a dollar). So for their second year they would be paid 17.75, third-year – 18$, fourth-year 18.25$, and for the fifth year – 18.50$ per hour.
So there you have it. We are a transparent company. We try and be as equitable as possible.