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Businesses Encouraging “Bad Work” Fuel In-Work Poverty Rates

gig economy

A recently poll has revealed that only one in ten people believe that all work is “fair and decent”. The poll was from the Royal Society for the Encouragements of the Arts (RSA) who commissioned Populus to ask 2,000 people what they thought of modern work.

Matthew Taylor, head of the government’s review into modern working practices said that many big businesses encouraged “bad work”.

“I think some business leaders understand completely the importance of good work and its link to productivity, but, as always, we have a long tail of businesses where there doesn’t seem to be that understanding,” he said to the BBC.

“Bad work” refers to things like gig work and zero-hours contracts which have attracted a lot of criticism in recent years. With gig workers not qualifying for employee benefits and zero-hours contracts not making enough to cover the rent, in-work poverty has become a key issue.


In-work poverty

A recent report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has also found that the amount of people defined as in “in-work poverty” has risen by 1.1 million since 2010 to 3.8 million.

Though poverty overall is down, the report noted that because of low wage growth, rising housing costs and cuts to benefits, more people are now considered below the poverty line even when they’re working.

In the RSA poll, almost 75% said that more needs to be done by the government in order to improve the quality of work and bring people out of poverty.

The review from Matthew Taylor is to be delivered after the election to whoever becomes Prime Minister. It will include suggestions for new work place regulations and the idea of a “new norm” of how companies treat their workers.


Happy, healthy workforce

Taylor described bad work as “unacceptable when so many people in work are in poverty. Bad work is clearly bad for our health and well-being, it leads to people dropping out of work. Bad work is bad for productivity, so it’s bad for our economy.”

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s evidence that when workers are given generous benefits like flexible working or more free time they become better at their jobs. Therefore, companies who encourage unhealthy “bad work” may be missing a trick and would actually benefit a lot more from concentrating on their workforce’s health and wellbeing.

“There is an old fashioned view in some parts of business that good work is somehow anti-competitive – it isn’t. If you get people to work better, then they will be more productive and be better for your business.”


What do you think about the gig economy and zero hours contracts? Do you think the government could be doing more? Let us know what you think!


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