An Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister, Leo Varadkar said in a speech this week that plans for the introduction of a mandatory living wage will be brought before the Government ahead of the summer recess.

The current living wage is set at €12.90 per hour, a figure calculated by the Living Wage Technical Group and is the basic amount that is deemed necessary to cover an average worker’s needs to a socially acceptable standard. This figure is €2.40 per hour more than the minimum wage of €10.50 per hour.

Varadkar said that he had just received a report he commissioned by the Low Pay Commission to examine and make recommendations on the best approach to establishing a living wage in Ireland. It is estimated that around one in five Irish workers currently earn less than the living wage.

It still needs to be decided how the living wage would be calculated but Varadkar said that there was merit in a basket of goods and services approach. However, another approach could be setting the living wage as a percentage of the median wage, which is potentially a simpler approach.

He noted that the Labour Employer Economic Forum was convening this week and the issue of the rising cost of living is firmly on the agenda.

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