‘Living Hours’ Programme Launched to Tackle Work Insecurity

‘Living Hours’ Programme Launched to Tackle Work Insecurity

New research finds one in six workers trapped in insecure work and low pay, with millions facing cancelled shifts, a lack of hours, or short-term contracts

  • Over 5 million (5.1m) workers earn less than the real Living Wage and are in a form of insecure work, 2 million of which are parents
  • Wales, the North East and the East Midlands have the highest rates of insecure work, with Scotland, the South East and London the lowest

The Living Wage Foundation has today launched ‘Living Hours’

This is 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 trapped in insecure forms of work, including short-term contracts, low wage contracts with varying pay and hours, and underemployment. The research found:

  • 2 million workers in insecure work are parents
  • Over a fifth (22%) of workers aged 16-24 are in insecure work, and in all categories of insecure work young people are worst affected.
  • However, insecurity is not just a problem for young people – 1 in 2 employed people (46%) experiencing insecurity at work are over the age of 35
  • Over a fifth (21%) of the working population in Wales experiences insecure work, and 17% 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 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 Aviva, SSE, Richer Sounds, and Standard Life Aberdeen have committed to sign up to the scheme, and the Foundation expects other major employers to sign up over the coming months.

Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said:

“The Living Wage has put over £850m 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 and the amount of pay you’ll get each week places people under enormous pressure. A shift cancelled at the last minute might sound trivial, but it can be the difference between being able to pay for your family’s dinner that night or going hungry.”

“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.”

Julian Richer, CEO of Richer Sounds, said:

“If you treat the people who work for you well, you’re going to have happier, more motivated staff, and ones that stay with you for years. That makes a huge difference, and that’s what I’ve found paying the Living Wage. We just need more businesses to realise this. Offering Living Hours is a great way to provide workers with security, but it’s also going to help businesses in the long-run.”