Trade-only plumbing and heating merchant Williams & Co has implemented the Living Wage for its workforce.

From 1 October, the company has guaranteed that all employees and on-site contracted staff will be paid at least the poverty-busting standard.

The Living Wage is a voluntary code for employers, run by the Living Wage Foundation. It is currently set at £8.80 per hour in London, and £7.65 per hour elsewhere in the country. It is founded on the principle that work should be the most effective route out of poverty.

Managing director Ray Stafford said: “Our staff add an enormous amount of value, and it is only right that this should be recognised. Introducing the Living Wage is a key part of our long-term strategy of being the premium employer in our sector.

“For too long, certain job functions in this industry have been dogged by low pay and low expectations. I would challenge all our competitors to look at their pay policies, particularly for entry-level staff, and ask themselves if they would want their children to come into our industry. We think we are the first merchant to sign up for the Living Wage, but I hope we won’t be the last.”

Living Wage foundation director Rhys Moore said: “We are delighted to welcome Williams & Co to the Living Wage movement as an accredited employer.”

Living Wage Week will take place from 2 to 8 November and will feature a range of initiatives aimed at celebrating companies already participating in the Living Wage programme, and encouraging others to join.