The Living Wage Foundation has recently launched Living Hours which is a new campaign aimed at FTSE100 employers and has been designed to improve job security for zero hour contract workers. In order to take part in the scheme, it is a requirement for the company to pay the Real Living Wage and be able to provide workers with a contract that accurately reflects the hours worked, a guarantee minimum of 16 hours a week and at least four weeks’ notice of shifts. By participating in this scheme, organisations will be accredited as Living Hours employers as well as their Living Wage accreditation.
Since the organisation was formed in 2001, the Living Wage has put almost £1 billion extra into the pockets of more than 200,000. However Katherine Chapman, who is the Director of the Foundation, explained that it is becoming “increasingly clear that pay is not the only driver of in-work poverty” but it is “a lack of secure, stable hours [which] is leaving millions of families struggling to keep their heads above water” and places them “under enormous pressure”. In preparation of the campaign, the Foundation “consulted with hundred of workers, employers and trade unions in drawing up the measure to ensure they are ambitious but achievable”.
The campaign comes as a result of new research which was conducted by the Living Wage Foundation, which is a campaigning organisation in the UK which has the aim to persuade employers to pay a Living Wage which is an independently-calculated minimum wage to cover workers’ basic needs.
The research found:
- 2 million workers in low paid, insecure work are parents.
- 22% of workers aged 16-24 are in low paid, insecure work.
- 46% of workers experiencing insecurity and low pay are over the age of 35.
- 21% of the working population in Wales experience low paid and insecure work in comparison to 18% in the North East, 15% in London and 13% in Scotland.
- 15% of white people at work are experiencing low pay and insecurity in comparison to 17% of Black/African/Caribbean workers and 17% of Asian workers.
It is expected that many employers are to sign up to the scheme over the coming months, although there have been many major Living Wage employers who have committed to the scheme. This includes Richer Sounds, SSE and Standard Life Aberdeen.
Julian Richer, who is the Founder and Managing Director of Richer Sounds, has expressed his support for the scheme explaining that “offering Living Hours is a great way to provide workers with security, but it’s also going to help businesses in the long-run” as he believes that “if you treat the people who work for you well, you’re going to have happier, more motivated staff”. John Stewart, Director of HR at SSE has also expressed his support by stating that “The Living Wage campaign has made huge strides in ending in-work poverty”.
The Real Living Wage is a higher rate of pay than the government-set compulsory National Living Wage which has been independently calculated to determine how much money a worker needs to be paid based on the actual cost of living in the UK. It is based on what a full-time worker and their family needs to manage and takes into account private rental costs, council tax, grocery shopping costs and public transport costs. However the scheme is voluntary and there is no legal obligation for employers to pay more than the National Living Wage, although it is proving to be successful in tackling the issue of job insecurity and low pay.
Insecurity at work is not only a problem for workers and their families however can be an issue for employers too. Workers who experience a lack of job security are found to be less committed to their job and are unlikely to put in extra effort if it is required.
This, of course, can lead to problems from a business perspective.