Adopting A Living Wage Policy

PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS | Oct 21, 2019

Request Prompt:

"What are some best practices in implementing a living wage or living wage policies?"

Summary of Findings: 

 A “Living Wage” is different than minimum wage and focuses on a minimum standard of living within a specific geography. Several calculations exist to calculate a “living wage” with many considering employer-paid benefits (specifically health insurance).

Policies, best practices:

Boulder, CO

Boulder is committed to paying at least the “living wage" in alignment with the Boulder-area cost of living to all standard full-time, part-time and temporary employees of the City and to city contracts for custodial, landscaping and emergency medical service responders.

Appropriate future adjustments in wages will be made in the context of salary and market data and the Boulder-area cost of living in order to support a living wage, and as budget resources and priorities allow, for all standard full-time, standard part-time, and temporary city employees as well as to city contracts related custodial, landscaping and EMS responders.

The City Manager reports annually to the City Council at the time of the adoption of the annual budget whether there is any standard full-time, part-time or temporary employee of the City of Boulder or employee of a custodial, landscaping and emergency medical service responder contractor who is being paid less than the living wage, as set forth above, and will recommend whatever additional appropriations are necessary to assure that all such employees are paid such living wage.

Durham County

Durham County's Living Wage policy entails that a minimum living wage shall be paid to full and part-time employees of the County, including seasonal and employees in the job placement program with the County.

The Minimum Living Wage is at least seven and one-half percent (7.5%) above the Federal Poverty Guidelines, as defined by the Bureau of Census, for a family of four. The annual living wage will be pro-rated for part-time employees based on their work percentage.

To maintain compliance with how the federal law defines “full time” differently for some professions, the minimum living wage for the County is based on an annual full-time salary instead of the hourly rate. For the fiscal year, 2015-2016 the annual full-time living wage was $26,063. The annual living wage is pro-rated for part-time employees based on their work percentage, e.g. the minimum living wage for an employee with a 52% work percentage is $13,553 ($26,063 times .52).

Wake County

Wake County’s living wage policy is applied to persons working for the County as regular employees whose scheduled hours exceed 1040 annually.

Wage Rate Calculation: The Minimum Wage Rate is fifteen dollars ($15) per hour or the Universal Living Wage Formula for the Raleigh - Cary MSA as calculated based on the local cost of housing according to the Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Fair Market Rents, whichever is greater. $1.50 will be deducted for employer-provided health insurance.

Annual Adjustment: The County Manager calculates the Minimum Wage Rate for employees on an annual basis and makes such adjustments in the County's pay plan to ensure the Minimum Wage Rates to all eligible employees.

City of Asheville

The City of Asheville offers a minimum living wage for all full-time and part-time.

The minimum living wage began at $11.35/hour for employees without benefits and $9.85 for employees with benefits in 2011. This rate has been adjusted consistent to inflation each budget year.

Raleigh, NC

The City of Raleigh’s Universal Living Wage is based on the notion that a person working full-time should be able to afford basic housing.

Wage Rate calculation: the 4-year average Universal Living Wage for the Raleigh-Cary metro statistical area. In practice, this option uses the standard established by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development that dictates that no more than 30% of an individual’s gross monthly income should be spent on housing.

Regular, full-time employees are offered employer-provided health insurance. As a result, $1.50 is deducted from the Wage Rate to reflect the investment in health insurance.

The HR Department calculates the wage rate for eligible employees on an annual basis and makes adjustments as needed subject to funding availability. If the calculated wage rate is lower the prior year’s calculation will be maintained as it is not the intent to reduce the City’s living wage.

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