BrewDog sparks controversy with wage shift amid financial challenges
In a surprising move, BrewDog, renowned for its Punk IPA beer, is facing employee backlash after deciding to withdraw from the accredited real living wage scheme.
The brewery’s strategy shift, aimed at alleviating financial strain, involves hiring new staff at the legal minimum wage of £10.42 per hour for those aged 23 and over. This falls below the independently verified living wage of £10.90 that existing staff currently receive. Additionally, pay for workers outside London is set to increase to £11.44 per hour from April 1, aligning with the new legal minimum for those aged 23 and over but falling short of the new real living wage of £12 per hour introduced by accredited employers.
The most significant impact is felt in London, where BrewDog has decided against any increase in the minimum pay rate from April. Bar staff in the capital will see their hourly pay frozen at £11.95, well below the newly introduced London real living wage of £13.15. This decision has raised concerns, especially considering the rising living costs and soaring rents in the city.
The brewery justified the move in a letter leaked on the online social media platform X (formerly Twitter). BrewDog described the shift as “important” and “necessary,” citing a trading loss in 2023. The letter, signed by the company’s executives, highlighted the challenges faced, even after a strong performance over the Christmas season.
BrewDog’s decision to pay the government’s national wage rate of £11.44 per hour from April has intensified discontent among employees. The announcement comes in the wake of ongoing financial struggles for the company, prompting the need for additional cost-cutting measures.
This development adds another layer to BrewDog’s history of workplace controversies. The brewery and its co-founder, James Watt, previously faced accusations of fostering a “toxic” culture, resulting in mental health issues among staff. In January 2021, Watt publicly apologised to former employees after an open letter, signed by 61 former workers, went viral.
James Watt, in a LinkedIn post, recently shared plans to bring BrewDog’s business story to the big screen. The founder revealed the development of a movie script titled “Underdogs: The Rise Of BrewDog,” chronicling the remarkable journey of him and co-founder Martin Dickie. The news of wage changes comes amidst this cinematic revelation, further intensifying the scrutiny on BrewDog’s business practices.
BrewDog’s Chief People Officer, Sarah Warman, acknowledged the challenges but expressed the company’s commitment to its employees. As the brewery grapples with financial difficulties, the decision to shift wage policies continues to draw criticism, raising questions about the company’s approach to employee welfare amid its quest for financial stability.