First Bus - Our people

First Bus to become UK’s largest national bus operator to be a real Living Wage employer

  • 245 colleagues based at depots in West and North Yorkshire to benefit from pay commitment

First Bus is delighted to announce that it will become a real Living Wage (RLW) employer from the 1st of April 2024.

The move means that 1,300 colleagues across the UK will benefit from a rise in wages in line with the new commitment, bringing every employee to at least £12 per hour in pay rates. These colleagues are spread across the UK business in various roles and will include workers employed through third party contractors.

First Bus has six depots operating services in its West and North Yorkshire region, two in Leeds together with Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield and York. The rise in the wage commitment will benefit 245 colleagues.

Once accredited, First Bus will become the UK’s largest national bus operator to make this commitment, cementing its position as an employer of choice in the sector. This demonstrates the importance of its colleagues to the business; ensuring no colleague ever gets left behind.

Today’s announcement is the latest step change as part of the ongoing business transformation at First Bus, which is putting colleagues and customers at the heart of everything it does.

The RLW is a voluntary rate of pay commitment. This is over and above the UK Government’s National Living Wage (NLW) standard, which is mandatory for companies to pay to workers aged 23+. With thisaccreditation, First Bus will ensure every colleague in every U.K. operation is paid at least the real Living Wage.

The RLW is calculated annually and set independently by the Living Wage Foundation. It is based on actual living costs rather than the median earnings calculations used for NLW. It is applicable to workers aged 18+ and is currently £12.00 per hour.

First Bus will go above and beyond to include its apprentices, by raising their wages to the RLW level over the next eighteen months. This move recognises the value it places on a diverse and inclusive apprenticeship population, as the RLW accreditation does not require employers to do this.

First Bus Managing Director, Janette Bell, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Living Wage Foundation and look forward to achieving our real Living Wage commitment. I am thrilled this will positively impact 1,300 of our colleagues with a pay rise from April 1st and that we are once again demonstrating to our people and the market that we care.

“Engaged employees encourage customers to travel more often. So, by treating our employees well, we are also helping to achieve our mission to get people out of their cars and onto the bus.

“We want First Bus to be a place where our people feel welcome, can be their true selves and succeed. It is vital that we do all we can to support our colleagues, and this is another important step in our transformation journey.”


Notes to editors

Notes to Editors

What is the Real Living Wage?

The UK Government National Living Wage (NLW) is mandatory for Companies to pay to workers aged 23+. It is currently £10.42. This is different to the Real Living Wage (RLW) which is a voluntary rate of pay. It is calculated annually and set independently from the UK Government, by The Real Living Wage Foundation. It is based on actual living costs rather than the median earnings calculations used for NLW. It is applicable to workers aged 18+ and is currently £12.00 per hour’.

The real Living Wage is an hourly rate of pay set independently and updated annually (not the UK government’s National Living Wage). It is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK, and employers choose to pay the Living Wage on a voluntary basis. According to the Living Wage Foundation, since 2011 the campaign has impacted over 460,000 employees and delivered £3bn in extra wages to some of the lowest paid workers in the UK.    

About Living Wage Foundation

The Living Wage Foundation is the institution at the heart of the independent movement of businesses, organisations and people who believe that a hard day’s work should mean a fair day’s pay. We recognise and celebrate the leadership shown by the over 14,000 Living Wage Employers across the UK who voluntarily commit to ensure their staff earn a real Living Wage that meets the cost of living. We are an initiative of Citizens UK.     

Only the real Living Wage is calculated according to the cost of living in the UK and in London. Employers choose to pay this wage on a voluntary basis. The real Living Wage applies to all workers over 18 – in recognition that young people face the same living costs as everyone else. It enjoys cross party support.     

The UK Living Wage for outside of London is £12 per hour. The London Living Wage is £13.15 per hour. These figures are calculated annually by the Resolution Foundation and overseen by the Living Wage Commission, based on the best available evidence on living standards in the UK and in London.

About First Bus

At First Bus, we are on a mission to grow bus usage. We will get behind initiatives that move people out of cars and onto bus. ​

We are one of the UK’s largest bus operators, delivering over a million passenger journeys every week for the communities we serve.

 Transforming our business for the better, we are putting our people and customers at the heart of all we do.

We are all about making journeys easier for our customers, which is why we were the first national bus operator to rollout Tap On, Tap Off payment technology across our entire UK fleet of 4500 buses. Our First Bus app has also been voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators.

First Bus is committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035. By March 2024, 15% of our will fleet will comprise Zero Emission Buses (ZEBs).

We are passionate about giving back to the communities we serve, which is why we are helping local businesses to progress their own decarbonisation journeys with access to our charging hubs while our buses are on the road.

We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland, Specialist Passenger Solutions, First Travel Solutions and Ensignbus.

First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.  

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