The CEO of Aberdeenshire brewer BrewDog has defended his decision to pull out of being a real living wage employer, favouring the national living wage, formerly known as national minimum wage.

Unite the Union shared a letter sent to staff, which explained new starts would earn £10.42 an hour, rising to £11.44 an hour in line with the increase to national living wage from April this year.

The Ellon-based company said all current staff rates will remain unchanged.

The decision has sparked criticism online, however CEO James Watt has been quick to hit back at critics, claiming "the value of our package is even more generous than the real living wage".

Posting on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, he added: "Hospitality is going through its toughest period in living memory. There were more closures and job losses last year than ever before.

"You also need to consider:
" · BrewDog Profit share. We shared £350,000 with our bar teams in the first ten months 2023 and this will increase to £500,000 when we include Q4.
" · Our customer service incentive where everyone working in a bar can earn an extra £1 per hour for the entire month simply by passing their mystery shop.

"This is before even you consider: sabbaticals, Hop Stock, medical care and massively enhanced holiday pay versus the rest of the industry.

"We also do not use any zero-hour contracts which many of the businesses in our industry use.

"It is important to note that nobody’s wages are going down and what we announced is actually a pay increase most of our people: our staff outside London will be getting a 4.95% increase in base pay, and crew currently working in London will be paid 4.5% above the National Living Wage.

"We remain fully committed to investing in our people, putting together packages which are well ahead of our competitors whilst doing all we can to drive exceptional customer experiences and long-term shareholder value for our community of over 220,000 Equity Punks."

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