Fear prevents a living wage

Written by: Tim Fryer | Published:

We have recently been running a poll on the Eureka Website following the introduction of the Living Wage. Around three quarters of respondents felt that the Living Wage would make no difference at all while the remainder thought it would be positive. No one thought it would have a negative impact.

If there was any surprise in this it is that so many thought it would be positive and perhaps the conclusion from that is that engineers believe the country’s workforce and consequently society as a whole will benefit from this marginal uplift of the base pay rate. If any engineers who are over 25 are going to benefit from a pay rise to £7.20 an hour then they are probably not working for the right company.

What was more interesting was a fairly innocuous news story posted over a month ago that has had thousands of hits every week since. The story had the headline ‘Engineers worry that asking for a pay rise could cost them their job’, which may not be catchy but it explains the premise. It reported on a survey revealing why engineers did not want to ask for a pay rise. 32% of engineers that responded said they feared their employer's reaction, 12% said the idea of having to work longer hours, 28% said the idea of having to justify why they deserve a raise and 25% are put off by the fear of being turned down. 45% went as far to say that asking for a pay rise could in some way jeopardise their position.

Clearly this is not ideal – unless you are the employer in which case it might save having to answer if the question is never asked. However it does sound a bit Dickensian. It may be that pay rises are not possibility for business reasons but surely there should be adult enough relationships that allow discussion to take place.

Or perhaps, in this entrepreneurial business, there are a lot of SMEs run by engineering geniuses. Great ideas, great engineers, but lacking in management ability. It may be a stereotype but it doesn’t necessarily help the employee get a pay rise. And the likelihood is that salary increases are not being deliberately avoided, they are just not being thought of. An engineering genius has more pressing matters to vex the mind. If this is the case then it will take a timely reminder from the employee that the living wage for an engineer goes up every year.

In the meantime, there is a new poll on the homepage concerning the use of virtual reality - please do register your vote.

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