COMPANIES are being urged to provide guaranteed minimum working hours for their employees, in a context in which five million people are in low-paid, insecure work. That figure is expected to rise substantially after the pandemic.
The Living Hours initiative comes from the Church Investors Group (CIG) of 60 companies, which seeks to promote ethical investment for the public benefit. It calls on its companies to become accredited Living Hours Employers by agreeing to provide stable minimum working hours as well as pay their staff the “real” Living Wage.
CIG has supported the Living Wage movement, an initiative of Citizens UK, since its inception in 2012. There are now almost 7000 Living Wage Employers across the UK who voluntarily commit to ensure that their staff earn a wage that meets the basic cost of living.
The Living Hours standard calls on employers to provide the right to a notice period of at least four weeks for shifts, with guaranteed payment for cancellation in this notice period; workers should have the right to a contract that accurately reflects the hours that they work, and be guaranteed a minimum of 16 hours a week, unless they request otherwise.
“Church investors are deeply committed to supporting workers’ access to decent pay and hours,” Canon Edward Carter, who chairs the CIG, said. “Insecure hours affect too many low-paid workers, and, without the security minimum hours bring, workers and their families are denied the basic preconditions needed for them to flourish.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has made this issue even more pressing, as a lack of sufficient working hours is causing ‘in-work’ poverty, while the insecurity of working hours has a real effect on families’ well-being, causing significant stress and leading to mental-health issues.”
CIG works sector by sector to engage its companies. Living Hours will initially engage with the finance and insurance sectors, before extending to the construction and utilities sectors later in the year. Existing Living Wage employers will be the first to be approached, in the knowledge that they have already demonstrated good practice in relation to workers’ pay.
Josephine Carlsson, who leads the CIG’s secretariat, said, “It is not just the workers who will benefit from companies signing up to the Living Hours initiative. A number of organisations have suggested a correlation between insecure work and productivity.
“The British economy has been failing to deliver higher wages and more sustainable growth, and the increase in insecurity may be partly responsible. Workers with little security are likely to be less committed; so the Church Investors Group believes the Living Hours initiative can also deliver positive benefits for companies that adopt it, as well as society at large.”