New initiative targets in-work poverty

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

New initiative targets in-work poverty

Related tags Management

Food manufacturing is one of the sectors being targeted by a new initiative aimed at tackling in-work poverty.

Good Work for All, launched by Business in the Community (BITC) and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has launched an action plan that aims to deal with the financial concerns increasingly affecting the performance of workers across the UK.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, one in eight UK workers (3.7M) are now living in poverty and there is a growing recognition of the plight of working families “just about managing​” (Addressing Economic Insecurity​, RSA and Nottingham Civic Exchange).

According to BITC, this has repercussions for food manufacturing businesses in terms of recruitment, retention and productivity.

Almost a third (32.5%) of BITC members have reported taking company-wide action on low-paid work, with successful outcomes.  

The Good Work for All action plan for businesses​ offers evidence and practical steps for change, illustrated with business case studies across three key areas: offering fair pay and benefits; reviewing the security and structure of roles; and ensuring all workers have access to the skills and development opportunities needed to progress.

The scheme highlights the benefits, including reduced absenteeism, as well as presenteeism – where people come into work despite the fact they are ill.  It also suggests the result would be higher levels of employee engagement and improved retention rates, while offering more secure contracts, training and development and effective line management would result in an increase in productivity.

With record numbers of people in employment we should be celebrating. However, many jobs, predominantly but not exclusively at the lower end of the pay-scale, are not providing financial stability​,” said Catherine Sermon, employment director at BITC.

When there’s evidence to suggest someone with financial concerns loses on average six days’ time at work each year, we can begin to understand the potential for businesses that choose to improve work for their low-paid employees​.”

Louise Woodruff, policy and research manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said that businesses had a “crucial role​” to play in solving the UK’s in-work poverty problem.

“This new action plan will be a great support for employers to share and learn from others about what works to improve the quality of jobs, especially for employees on low incomes. Improving pay, benefits, progression and job security will all contribute to making work the route out of poverty we would all like it to be​,” she said.

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