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3 June, 2020 Open access

Lower-paid workers need a post-pandemic settlement based on ‘more respect, higher pay, and better conditions at work’, says Resolution Foundation

New report includes calls for improved enforcement of labour market rules and greater control over working hours and pay intervals

Lower-paid workers need a post-pandemic settlement based on ‘more respect, higher pay, and better conditions at work’, the Resolution Foundation has said.

Introducing a new report today, A new settlement for the low paid: Beyond the minimum wage to dignity and respect, the Foundation highlights that -

‘… it is the UK’s 4.2 million low-paid workers on whom this pandemic has imposed the greatest cost, and of whom the efforts to combat it have required the greatest sacrifice. Lower earners are three times as likely to have lost their job or been furloughed as high earners, and are more than twice as likely to do jobs exposing them to health risks.’

While the Foundation accepts it is not by design that the low paid have suffered the most during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, it calls for increased pay rates - continuing the pre-crisis trend to increase wages, as shown by the government’s aim (as set out in Budget 2020 (at paragraph 1.173)) to raise the National Living Wage to two-thirds of typical hourly pay by 2024 - to be part of a post-COVID-19 re-evaluation of the approach we take as a society towards lower-paid workers.

In addition, the Foundation sets out proposals to address the quality and insecurity of low paid work, including - 

Commenting on the proposals, Economist at the Resolution Foundation Hannah Slaughter said -

‘Britain’s low-paid workers have been at the heart of the current economic crisis. They are the most likely to have lost their jobs, or to have put their own health at risk by working on the frontline.

The appreciation now being expressed for these workers is in stark contrast to the fact that for too long we have offered them a world of work based on insecurity and exploitation, not dignity and respect.

Britain’s post-pandemic economy will look different from the one before coronavirus hit. For low earners that should be because the government has put in place a new settlement, based on more respect, higher pay, and better conditions at work.

New wage boards should drive up standards in problem industries, while workers need to be given more control of the hours they work and when they are paid. Rights must not only be strengthened but enforced. These are balanced, moderate proposals, that taken together would amount to a new settlement for low-paid workers.’

For more information, see Low-paid workers deserve a post-pandemic settlement of higher pay and greater control over their work from resolutionfoundation.org