Romford travel company ups salaries in line with 'real living wage'

Ocean Holidays Group's team at their summer party

Ocean Holidays Group's team at their summer party - Credit: Ocean Holidays Group

A Romford-based holiday company has announced it will pay its employees the real living wage. 

Ocean Holidays Group, a Florida-specialist travel company, has joined 9,000 other UK companies as an accredited living wage employer, meaning all full-time staff will earn a minimum of £23,000 per year. 

The so-called real living wage, which is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation based on the actual cost of living, is higher than the government’s national minimum or national living wage. 

It is currently £11.05 per hour in London and £9.90 an hour across the rest of the UK. 

The lowest annual salary at the company had previously been roughly £21,000 and the pay rise, which came into effect on January 1, affected 18 of its employees. 

Ocean Holidays Group’s head of people Karen Sheehan said: “We are delighted to be able to offer our team the real living wage, and view this step as an important means of us encouraging more young people to work in the travel industry by offering them a more meaningful salary.” 

She also noted that the company offered their under-18 apprentices 60 per cent more than the government’s apprentice minimum wage. 

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“By investing in our people, at all levels, not only is it the right thing to do, but we have seen better staff retention levels and have been able to attract a greater calibre of new recruits,” she added. 

Karen said the pay rise had been enabled by a boom in American tourism over the past few months.

She said: “If you’d have asked me in November, I would have said 'no', we couldn’t have done this yet, but borders opened for us in America from early December so we’ve just seen a surge in bookings and felt now was the time to do it to reward everyone for their hard efforts over the last two years.

“I think what’s happened is people haven’t had the holiday that they wanted for the last two years and then when the borders opened, that’s it, everyone said: ‘We’re going on holiday now.'” 

She added that the company had been subjected to a rigorous accreditation process from the Living Wage Foundation.

“We also had to look into people like our security guards and our cleaners, what they were being paid, even though those are third party,” she said.