Durham University announces pay increase for Casual Workers in line with Real Living Wage commitment


Durham University has announced that, as of 1st April 2024, it will update its pay spine in line with the Real Living Wage, as part of its process to become an officially accredited employer with the Living Wage Foundation.

This means that workers under Casual Rates 1 and 2 will receive a pay rise to £12 per hour, in line with the Real Living Wage Rate, which is independently calculated by the Living Wage Foundation.

The Living Wage Foundation is a Citizens UK initiative to help tackle the cost of living crisis by encouraging employers to pay their workers a minimum of the Real Living Wage. This is a separate wage to the National Living Wage, which is calculated as a percentage of national median earnings. The Real Living Wage, calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, uses “a basket of household goods and services” to work out a minimum wage that takes into account the cost of living both in and outside of London. 

Currently, over 14,000 UK employers are accredited by the Living Wage Foundation, benefitting 460,000 employees.

Casual Workers will now receive a minimum hourly rate of £12 per hour

The University already bases most wages on the Living Wage Foundation’s benchmark, and in 2022 confirmed that “Durham University commits to annually increasing pay to at least match the Real Living Wage rate.” However, without accreditation, they are not obliged to do so.

With accreditation, the University will join 15 other Russell Group Universities to be an accredited member of the Living Wage Foundation. Durham Students’ Union has been a Living Wage Employer since 2018.

In their announcement of the pay increase on Sharepoint, the University said: “Although we have for some time tracked the Real Living Wage, we are currently in the process of becoming an officially accredited employer with the Living Wage Foundation.”

This comes after an agreement issued between the University and Durham’s University and College Union (UCU) branch in September 2023, the University announced that it would provide financial support for international staff and academic staff on the lowest grade, and seek Living Wage Accreditation.

These changes will mainly affect casual staff, such as student ambassadors and students who work for a college. The minimum casual rate from August 2023 was £11.3291 per hour, which was above the National Living and Minimum Wage Rates. This will now increase to a minimum of £12 per hour. 

“This [pay rate] will increase on an annual basis in line with updated Real Living Wage rates”

Durham University

Some other staff members will also see an “interim supplement” to ensure that “staff on the lowest spine points are paid an hourly rate, at appropriate differentials, that is above the Real Living Wage hourly rate for the UK, which is currently at £12 an hour.”

This means that staff in Grades 1-3 and some of Grade 4 of Durham University’s Pay Spine will see an increase in wages which will be reviewed after national pay negotiations. This mainly covers members of staff who are paid in the region of £11-£13 per hour, and will now see increases of between 18 and 64 pence per hour. 

In an email to affected staff members, including casual staff, Durham University’s Reward Team said: “From 1st April 2023, we are replacing Casual Rates 1 and 2 with a new single rate referred to as the ‘Real Living Wage Rate’, which will currently be paid at £12 per hour. This will increase on an annual basis in line with updated Real Living Wage rates.”


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