The Living Wage Foundation has launched Living Hours, a major new programme to tackle widespread insecurity over hours and provide workers with real control over their lives. The scheme will require organisations to pay the real Living Wage and commit to provide workers with at least four weeks’ notice of shifts, a contract that accurately reflects hours worked, and a contract with a guaranteed minimum of 16 hours a week.Organisations that agree to these measures will be accredited as Living Hours employers alongside their Living Wage accreditation.
The announcement comes as new research commissioned by the Living Wage Foundation has revealed that one in six, or around 5 million workers, are in low paid, insecure forms of work, including short-term contracts, and contracts with unpredictable pay and hours. The research found:
- 2 million workers in low paid, insecure work are parents
- Over a fifth (22%) of workers aged 16-24 are in low paid, insecure work, and in most types of insecure work measured, young people are worst affected.
- However, insecurity is not just a problem for young people – 1 in 2 employed people (46%) experiencing insecurity and low pay at work are over the age of 35
- Over a fifth (21%) of the working population in Wales experiences low paid, insecure work, and 18% in the North East, compared to 15% in London and 13% in Scotland.
- Those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are disproportionately affected: 15% of white people in work are experiencing low pay and insecurity in comparison to 17% of workers from mixed/multiple ethnic groups, 17% of Asian/Asian British workers and 17% of Black/African/Caribbean/Black British workers
Major Living Wage employers including Richer Sounds, SSE and Standard Life Aberdeen have committed to sign up to the scheme, and the Living Wage Foundation expects other employers to sign up over the coming months.
Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said:
“The Living Wage has put almost £1bn extra into the pockets of more than 200,000 workers, but it’s increasingly clear that pay is not the only driver of in-work poverty. A lack of secure, stable hours is leaving millions of families struggling to keep their heads above water. This isn’t good for workers or businesses.
“Constant uncertainty over the number of hours, timings of your shifts or the amount of pay you’ll get each week places people under enormous pressure. A shift cancelled at the last minute might sound small, but it can be the difference between being able to pay for your family’s dinner that night or going hungry. And being expected to work at short notice means you can’t plan around other costs and commitments.
“We’ve consulted with hundreds of workers, employers and trade unions in drawing up these measures to ensure they are ambitious but achievable. We believe Living Hours will provide an important new measure to fight in-work poverty and to provide workers and their families with stability and security.”