Royal Mail accused of being ‘Scrooge’ for not paying army of elves living wage

Royal Mail are recruiting for people to reply to children’s Christmas letters – but they have been criticised for only offering £9-an-hour (Image: Getty)

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An army of helpers replying to children’s letters to Santa Claus will not be paid a real living wage.

The Royal Mail expects these festive elves to get by on £9 an hour – 50p less than the voluntary rate set by the Living Wage Foundation.

Kids are invited to write to Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, XM4 5HQ, which is an office just off Edinburgh’s bypass.

Royal Mail’s job ad says: “We have an exciting opportunity over the festive ­period to make sure that children who write to Santa through the Royal Mail all ­receive a reply and we need your help to ensure that this can happen.”

Writing to Santa is a yearly tradition that even coronavirus can't stop
(Image: Getty)

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These elves will need admin skills and “attention to detail” rather than toy-making talents. They will also have to stick to strict privacy rules over kids’ ­information, with names and addresses deleted after Christmas.

Campaigner group the Living Wage Foundation increased its voluntary real living wage from £9.30 to £9.50 this week. This is 78p more than Britain’s legal minimum wage.

The Foundation said 5.5 million UK jobs, 20 per cent of all employees, still earn less than its real living wage. In Northern Ireland it is 25.3 per cent and 15.2 per cent in Scotland.

It said women are more likely to get less than the living wage – 60 per cent in April – but the gap is reducing.

The highest proportion of such poorly paid staff are in hospitality (70.8 per cent), then the arts, entertainment and recreation (36.8 per cent).

But the highest number of jobs paid below this level are in the wholesale and retail sectors – with 1.3 ­million workers affected.

Last year Royal Mail, British Airways, JD Sports and other big UK companies said the vast majority of staff already got the real living wage.

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This Christmas, Royal Mail is set to hire a record 33,000 temporary ­staff for the increased volume of cards and parcels – two-thirds more than usual.

A spokesman said: “Our rates of pay are always competitive within the local area and our flexible workers are eligible for statutory holiday and sick pay. Our flexible workers typically work for us for 12 weeks and then may have the opportunity to move into a permanent role.”

Based on a figures estimated from 37 staff on job site Indeed Christmas, temps may be paid £10.64 an hour.