Boxpark switches job ad to get round Living Wage rules

Hardly a beacon of best practice when it comes to paying the London Living Wage

Hardly a beacon of best practice when it comes to paying the London Living Wage

Boxpark, the council-subsidised food and booze venue, has dropped its low-pay internship advertisement, after Inside Croydon highlighted how it was offering to pay a miserly £6.50 per hour, well below the London Living Wage.

Now, Boozepark has re-jigged the ad, making the vacancy for an “apprentice”, but on exactly the same cheap terms. This comes less than a week after the Labour-run council’s cabinet member for the economy and jobs told a Town Hall meeting that the council “is helping Boxpark with their registration with the Living Wage Foundation”.

It was a Croydon Labour manifesto commitment in 2014 for the council to become a London Living Wage employer, and for it to ensure that its suppliers and contractors all pay the London Living Wage of £9.75 per hour.

Yet despite handing Boozepark a £3.5million of public money in loans and grants to set up alongside East Croydon Station, Tony Newman and his Progress clique at the council did nothing to ensure that the company was already registered with the Living Wage Foundation.

Last November, the council response to a Freedom of Information Act request about the company’s status said that Boxpark “… does pay the London Living Wage and has committed to seeking accreditation through the London Living Wage Foundation”.

A spokeswoman for the Living Wage Foundation – to which Croydon Council is signed up – told Inside Croydon that registering as a Living Wage employer is simple and quick, and can take just 48 hours. Boxpark was not registered in November, and it remains not registered as a Living Wage employer today.

Spot the difference... Before, an ad for an intern on £6.50 per hour...

Spot the difference… Before, an ad for an intern on £6.50 per hour…

... and after, an ad for an 'apprentice' on £6.50 per hour

… and after, an ad for an ‘apprentice’ on £6.50 per hour

In his appearance before the council scrutiny committee last week, Mark Watson assured those present in the Town Hall chamber that the council was “helping” Boxpark, which is owned by millionaire entrepreneur Roger Wade, to become registered as a Living Wage employer.

Yet yesterday, Boozepark posted an ad on its own website in which they offer to pay £3.25 per hour less than the London Living Wage, using the device of presenting the vacancy as an “apprenticeship” to get around minimum wage laws.

Young apprentices can be paid as little as £3.40 per hour. Even apprentices well into their 20s can be fobbed off with lower pay rates than provided by the Living Wage.

“It looks like Boxpark will use any loophole they can find to be able to pay such low wages,” one Katharine Street source told Inside Croydon.

“Is this what Mark Watson meant when he said he was ‘helping’ Boxpark with their Living Wage registration? It’s a scandal that our London Living Wage council should be subsidising a business which is prepared to exploit low-paid workers in this manner.”

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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