Smugglers Pub and Cafe co-owners Paul Davenhill and Mike Thomas. Photo: Kate Russell.

Smugglers offer staff a living wage

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In the 15 years Paul Davenhill and Mike Thomas have owned Smugglers Pub and Cafe, they’ve always looked after their workers.

But now the Tahunanui eatery is going one step further and is paying all their staff the living wage.

Currently set at a rate of $20.55 an hour, the living wage is aimed at helping workers cover the basic expenses of life, including food, housing and transportation.

The current minimum wage is $17.70 an hour.

The living wage rate is set by the not-for-profit organisation Living Wage Aotearoa, and is voluntary for employers.

Although they are not yet an accredited living wage employer, Mike says they wanted to make the move to help their staff “make ends meet”.

“We’ve been thinking about it for a while and the timing was right. With rising rental prices, petrol costs etc, it can be tough going for these guys.”

Paul says, out of their 20 staff many are already earning over the living wage rate, but they wanted to put everyone “over the line”.

He says they have an “open door policy” for their workers and are lucky enough to still have some of their key staff members since they started the business.

“The hospitality industry is notoriously underpaid, but now it’s looked upon as a career and we’ve got to do the right thing. You’ve got to be more than just owners.”

Mike says the reactions from staff have been nothing but positive.

“We sort of kept it under wraps, so they were surprised, but very appreciative. It’s hard to find good staff and we want to retain them.”

Paul says, while hospitality is “not an easy industry to make money in”, valuing staff is one of the keys to creating a successful business.

“It’s a fine balance of looking after staff and running a business, but this is an investment into our future – and their future.”