The Living Wage Foundation's latest initiative aims to improve workers' entitlement to regular and more predictable working hours.
Currently one in six workers in the UK (5.1 million people) experience work insecurity and earn less than the Real Living Wage. The focus of the Living Hours campaign is to ensure more workers have financial security and to alleviate 'in-work poverty', particularly for those who work on zero-hours or short term contracts where pay and hours are unpredictable.
Living Hours standard
FTSE100 employers are able to apply on a voluntary basis for Living Hours accreditation (alongside their Living Wage accreditation). In doing so they will require to:
- Pay the Real Living Wage, currently £9.00 across the UK and £10.55 in London.
- Provide at least 4 weeks' notice of shifts to workers; with a guaranteed shift cancellation payment if shifts are cancelled within this notice period.
- Ensure that workers' contracts reflect actual hours worked and provide for a guaranteed minimum of 16 hours work per week, unless the worker requests otherwise.
Entitlement to four weeks' notice of shifts
It is hoped that if employers provide more notice of shift patterns and share rotas in advance it will enable workers to plan for the month ahead both financially and also in terms of childcare/family commitments. It also encourages employers to plan staffing requirements more effectively.
The implementation of a shift cancellation payment aims to share the burden of any last minute changes and fluctuations in staff requirements, so that workers do not suffer as a result.
The Living Hours contract
The commitment made by employers to offer a Living Hours contract provides workers with a right to have their contracts reviewed and adjusted so they accurately reflect the hours actually being worked, where they are regularly working over their contracted hours. The first review would take place after 12 weeks and thereafter every 12 months.
For those who wish to work less than 16 hours per week, they are able to opt-out of the weekly minimum if they sign a letter to that affect.
The introduction of a Living Hours contract aims to cut down on zero-hours contracts being used as 'permanent workforce management tools' which may exploit regular workers.
Living Hours is a practical solution that employers can adopt to help provide the security and stability that low paid workers need to make ends meet.
From an employer's perspective, although there will be an initial investment required to ensure the right systems and infrastructure are in place to support the change, implementing the Living Hours standard has the potential to benefit both individual workers and the business. Workers who are guaranteed secured hours on a regular basis are likely to feel more valued and be more committed to their work as a result. This in turn could lead to increased employee engagement and productivity, as well as avoiding the potentially adverse financial and logistical impacts of high staff turnover.