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Employment

Buckingham Palace is offering below minimum wage pay for a live-in housekeeper

Royal housekeepers are told to "take pride in your work and aim for the highest standards."

The winning applicant will find themselves part of the team cleaning Buckingham Palace's 775 rooms. Image: Unsplash / Robenson Gassant

An advert for a live-in housekeeper at Buckingham Palace is offering just £7.97 an hour – £1.53 less than the national minimum wage for people over 22.

The advert offers a salary of £19,900, with the “option to live-in (for which there is a salary adjustment) with meals provided.”

The actual salary adjustment – since removed from the advert – knocks the wages down to £7.97, which even for applicants aged 22 or 21, is £1.91 below the minimum wage.

It’s not illegal to do this – bosses who employ live-in staff are allowed to deduct money from wages to account for the costs of accommodation, currently set at a maximum of £8.70 per day or £60.90 per week. And the job also comes with a generous 15 per cent employer contribution pension scheme, plus benefits.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “The hourly rate in the advert was published in error. The full remuneration package for this role includes the offer of accommodation and meals, which makes the offer very competitive for similar roles in London.”

But leading union Unite Hospitality has labelled the basic wage being offered by “one of the richest landowners in the country” as “obscene”.

“This case serves to highlight the rampant exploitation of migrant domestic workers allowed through lack of legislative protections which allow rich households to abuse and exploit mostly migrant women workers,” a spokesperson told The Big Issue. 

The ad states that though previous housekeeping or hospitality experience would be an advantage, it is not essential. Most importantly, candidates should have “proactive approach and ability to tackle new challenges.”

Based in either Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle, the role would involve travelling to other Royal residences, and a “unique working environment”.

Some online have suggested that the ‘perk’ of getting to live in the Royal Estate is worth the pay cut. Buckingham Palace sits in Westminster, the second most expensive borough in London, where it costs an average of £3,870 per month to rent a flat through estate agents Hamptons.

In response to the cost of living crisis that’s seeing pay packets decrease in value as inflation soars, employers have been signing up to pay the ‘real living wage’ at a record rate. 

Over 10,000 employers including the Royal Albert Hall, Royal London Yacht Club and British Library have signed up to pay the independently calculated rate, currently set at £9.90 in most of the UK, and £11.05 in London.

Unite Hospitality said: “We would encourage Her Majesty to become a Living Wage employer and to sign up-to our Fair Hospitality Charter to ensure Buckingham Palace workers are treated fairly.”

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