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Emmanuel College paid fifty of its workers below the national living wage last academic year, Varsity can reveal.

Freedom of Information statistics obtained by Harvey Brown, the SU’s Welfare and Community Officer, have uncovered that these fifty staff are paid less than £10.42 per hour.

These staff account for 23 percent of the employees paid directly by the College.

All workers aged 23 or over are entitled to the living wage, with staff under this age entitled to the minimum wage.

The lowest hourly wage paid out to Emmanuel’s casual workers was £7.49, which is the minimum wage for 18 to 20 year-olds.

The lowest wage the College paid its contracted staff was £11, which stands below the new living wage to be introduced on the first of April, £11.44.

Brown told Varsity: “In the Collegiate University - like the country at large – workers are being hurt by outsourcing, low pay, and a lack of recognised unions in colleges. Student workers are forced to accept more precarious work, as are casualised members of staff in colleges.”

“What does it say about the ‘communities’ colleges claim to be if they won’t pay workers enough to live on?” the sabbatical officer questioned, saying: “As students and workers we must refuse to accept attacks on staff, and stand together to demand good conditions for all and a Cambridge pay weighting.”

“Some colleges (Queens, Girton, Selwyn, Fitzwilliam) are leading by example in paying the real living wage, Emmanuel and every other college should take note and pay the real living wage with a Cambridge weighting,” Brown said.

Cambridge SU has long been campaigning for colleges to pay the Real Living Wage. In 2022, Emmanuel sat at the bottom of the SU's Taylor's table, which ranks colleges on the lowest wage they pay to staff.

This investigation found that the College paid some staff £6.83 per hour in the year 2021/22.

This comes in the same week as the Government named Emmanuel among 500 companies that failed to pay minimum wage. The College deprived 47 workers of £3,924.75 in total wages, which have now been paid following Government pressure.

The College told Varsity that this particular issue is “historical”, arising from “a misunderstanding about how the NMW legislation applied to a small number of students who worked on a voluntary basis in the student bar”. These unpaid wages date to a period before June 2018.


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Responding to the new 2022/23 statistics, Emmanuel College told Varsity: “The College closely monitors staff salaries across the University and Cambridge colleges to ensure that our salaries remain fair and competitive. Each year we take into account the real living wage set by the Living Wage Foundation when we consider the cost of living award to be applied for all staff.”

“All our permanent staff have been paid the Real Living Wage, or more, since before 2023. In January, the College made further pay awards to ensure staff benefit from the increased level of the Real Living Wage. The only exceptions are some of the students working in our bar. Which is rather uniquely student run and operates on not-for-profit basis,” the College said.