It is essential for the health, skills and productivity of our nation that businesses use government funding to support better job quality for their staffby Rosie Stock Jones / June 4, 2020 / Leave a comment
Precarious work is disproportionately experienced by those on low incomes, and by those who have been most affected by Covid-19. The frailty that comes with precarious work is damaging to both individuals and the wider economy. A recent study conducted by the Centre for Progressive Policy shows that the public demands an improvement to job conditions after Covid-19.
The affluent, with the security of their savings, the ability to work from home and assets such as cars and second homes, are in a good position to weather the fallout. Care workers, warehouse packers and delivery drivers who have got us all through the last few months are not. Many are not paid enough to meet their basic needs and often face uncertain hours. Care work, for example, has been hailed as the “forgotten front line” of this crisis yet 60 per cent of domiciliary care employees work under zero-hours contracts. This was never acceptable, but our reliance on these workers in the last few months makes the reality particularly uncomfortable. JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon has said that the crisis must be a “wake up call” to businesses and policy makers but warm words from the super-rich are not enough. Something needs to change now, and government loans to business provide a timely opportunity to lock in better working arrangements.
If the government is to deliver on its “levelling up” commitment, making good jobs a reality for all must be a central focus of the economic recovery. “Good jobs” mean jobs that pay a living wage, that are secure, prioritise staff wellbeing and offer skills development and progression. All of these are critical for an inclusive recovery. Decent pay is needed to prevent people from falling into poverty or long-term unemployment, both of which can have long lasting repercussions for communities, and affect lives for generations. Security is important for health, which is hugely unequal across the country. Insecure arrangements such as zero-hours contracts are known to increase stress. Poor mental and physical health can lead to inactivity or poor performance. Offering progression, opportunity and skills development is imperative for reducing the skills gap between places and is key to building economic…