18 September 2015 | Herpreet Grewal
News reports suggest that the national "living wage" announced by the chancellor in the Budget has caused service forms of all kinds, including FM, to warn of the new legal minimum's effects on their short-term profitability.
Interserve CEO Adrian Ringrose, for example, said that he expected his company to suffer an "initial adverse impact on margins".
Cleaning is likely to be most affected; research firm AMA says that the National Living Wage is one of the major issues facing the contract cleaning industry.
A Manpower Employment Outlook survey suggests that companies might try to get out of paying the new wage by taking on the younger or self-employed workers who are not yet entitled to it. Employers are already scaling back their fourth-quarter recruitment plans.
There's also research from think tank the Resolution Foundation indicating that support services, especially hospitality, will have the largest wage bill as a result of enacting the National Living Wage.
So this time we asked - what might all of this might mean? In the long term will facilities management gain or lose from the National Living Wage?
In answer to a straight yes or no, 80 per cent of you agreed that paying workers a more respectful wage would highlight the significance of their roles and the wider impact of facilities management. One respondent said: "The same fears surfaced prior to a minimum wage being set, but there was no mass lay-offs or effect on the profit margins."
Another said: "Enhanced pay can be used as a catalyst to raise standards, performance and morale benefiting supplier and client."
"Our industry is all about people," said another respondent - "the more investment in our people, the better."
However, 20 per cent of you disagree, accepting the argument that the NLW would compound the problem of FM being wrongly perceived as a burdensome commodity purchase. One respondent pointed out the cost of labour for service delivery is "always the issue between clients and facilities management supply businesses. It does not matter who the client is - public or private - whatever they say in sanctimonious press releases, they are all disinclined to pay out more than they have to.
"Clients do not really concern themselves about individuals on low pay. If they did then they would pay much more; to see what they truly value just look at what salary the same client pays to attract a good facilities manager."