Holiday Park Boss Insists On Fair Wages For Staff

Under paying workers in the touring industry
Under paying workers in the touring industry

Wednesday, 13, Jun 2018 04:07

By William Coleman

Fair pay is something we all deserve no matter what industry your in. It seems as though, from what I have read, that a lot of the workers that make our industry so special are often very poorly paid. Is this a trend in the industry or just a few random cases?

One holiday park owner truly believes that the idea of underpaying staff is "ironic and perverse that this industry has so many well paid customers with such low paid staff.

These are the words of Patrick Langmaid, the owner of the family run Mother Ivey's Bay Holiday Park near Padstow. Patrick has been supporting the initiative of fair pay by ensuring his staff are on a real living wage and has done for years. His belief is that you get what you pay for and his business benefits from having well paid staff.

According to Patrick there were only 2, of roughly 10,000, sites in the UK that are fully accredited for paying their staff and realistic living wage. That shocked me when I read that!

In 2015 Patrick became a fully accredited living wage employer after trialling the idea out in 2014. One huge benefit that was apparent was how much it helped with recruitment in an industry that has a large seasonal turnover. Also the boost in moral of the staff went up and retention of staff went down. All these positives improvements reflected on the gustes experiences which in turn made revenue increase and added more return bookings.

"It's a huge irony that tourism requires low wages to function, but you need high wages to go on holiday, go to the restaurant or do activities. For some businesses to think that their customers are well-paid, but it's OK for their staff not to be is perverse." says Patrick.

Patrick took the company over from his family in the 1990s. He wanted to make sure that the company was successful but not at the expense of the staff. After seeing what goes on Patrick felt uncomfortable with the way the tourism and hospitality sector works in regards to what staff get paid.

It would seem that there are some people/companies that are comfortable to pay a low wage so they can take a higher amount home at the end of the month. The thing that I have found in every sector I have worked in is that paying a poor wage does not help productivity, all it does is increase staff turn over.

Patrick said: "When I started running the business and took it off in 1996 I was totally focused on marketing and strengthening the business and the brand. But I did have a nagging feeling about my team. I wasn't running the whole place on my own. The team was delivering the guests' experience, not me.

"With that nagging feeling in my mind I cricked my neck in 2013 and, while seeing my osteopath in Padstow, I was reading the Guardian newspaper in the waiting room. I'm not a Guardian reader, but it had been left there and as it turned out to be on that quiet November day, it was Living Wage Week.

"I didn't know anything about it but there were a lot of stories about the real living wage in the paper. It got me thinking. I got back to the site and looked at what we were paying our staff and what it would cost more to pay the Real Living Wage."

Wanting to see if it was financially possible for him to bring up wage levels up Patrick visited his financial consultant. After looking into it he was shocked to find out he had the backing of both his money man and his parents are on the business's board of directors.

"I thought I would have to champion the real living wage with my parents. I expected a full-on battle. But they welcomed it and thought it was a fantastic idea.

"I was already paying £7 an hour at the time and to pay the real living wage of £7.65 an hour it would have cost me £20,000. It was a real cost to the business, but it worked brilliantly.

"I find recruiting staff so much easier now. I can pick and choose who I recruit because I receive so many more applications," Mr Langmaid said.

"I feel more empowered in that way too. Staff retention is less of an issue and we are now able to offer an even greater guest experience."

When these changes were being made by Mother Ivey's Bay Holiday Park there were 800 accredited real living wage employees in the UK and now there are over 4000.

During the peak season Patrick employs 25 staff with a maximum of 15 all year round.

As I mentioned before fair pay should be standard practice for everyone who is employed. To see an employer taking a stand and drawing a line in the sand is very refreshing to see.

Pictures courtesy of Mother Ivy Bay's Holiday Park and Oliver Vergnault.

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