Staff on the lowest grades will see their hourly rates increase from £6.36 to the minimum Scottish living wage of £7.15.
The authority is only the second in Scotland to introduce the new pay grade – which was unanimously agreed at a full council meeting last week.
It will mean a wage increase of more than £1000 a year for full-time staff, and the updated pay structure will be backdated to May and could be in Christmas pay packets.
In addition, the council agreed to encourage its private suppliers, contractors and partners to introduce the living wage for their workforce so that potentially hundreds more employees could benefit in the long term.
Council leader Ronnie McColl said: “It’s important to look after those at the lowest levels within the council. Hopefully this will be processed as soon as possible for the staff it affects.
“We are the biggest employer in this area by far and it’s incumbent on us to make sure our workforce is protected.
“We have gone one step further by trying to ensure that private contractors provide a decent wage for the people who work for them.”
Labour councillor David McBride, who has been pushing for the living wage to be introduced for over a year, hailed the new policy.
He added: “This is the fifth time the Labour group has tabled a motion on the introduction of the living wage. It’s important, even in times of austerity, that we should protect those who are low paid.”
The move – which will increase the authority’s wage bill by £200,690 a year – has been welcomed by unions and will be implemented as soon as a collective agreement can be reached.
Charlie McDonald on behalf of Unite, the GMB and Unison, said: “We welcome this consensual approach. The trade unions have campaigned long and hard for this and it is going to benefit the low paid workforce of West Dunbartonshire.”
The £7.15 hourly rate is defined by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as the minimum income needed by a family or individual to ensure an acceptable standard of living.