Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester (pictured), is investigating the introduction of a salary policy for hospitality operators in the city-region.
The policy is part of discussions surrounding Greater Manchester's Good Employment Charter, a voluntary scheme aiming to raise employment standards through a set of criteria including payment of the real Living Wage.
The scheme will ask operators in the region to provide hospitality staff with real Living Wage salaries as a minimum. The wage, calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, stands at £9.50 outside of London.
Discussions on the initiative are now taking place among key stakeholders in the region, including the Night-Time Economy Office, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (GM LEP).
In Greater Manchester, the sector supported a third of the city-region's workforce pre-pandemic, yet 53% of part time and 21% of full time hospitality workers earn less than Living Wage.
Lord said: "The Living Wage currently only applies to employees over 23, meaning the majority of bar and restaurant staff are unfairly paid compared to older colleagues. We need to abolish this system and ensure fair pay across the field.
"In Greater Manchester, more than half of part time workers earn less than Living Wage. By continuing to pay staff on the cheap, not only is it unfair on the workers themselves, but the industry simply won't attract new entrants when they can earn higher salaries elsewhere.
"For many, it's their first job, their introduction to a lifetime of employment and it's time to instil fair standards across the board. We want to work closely with those who are paying staff fairly to ensure they are held on a pedestal against those who aren't."
The move will also seek to plug the growing number of vacancies across the region, where over 2,500 hospitality jobs currently remain unfilled.
Lord added: "Attracting job seekers into the hospitality and tourism sector is critical for its survival. The depletion of staff across the industry is on a scale that is difficult to comprehend. There are severe recruitment issues and many venues are closing midweek, unable to open full time purely due to staff shortages.
"Working in the sector is an exciting, rewarding, brilliant career, but we need to ensure staff are paid appropriately in order to sustain its attractiveness."
The outcome of the discussions will be released in due course.