GM Living Wage Campaign

News about upcoming campaign events, and Articles from our campaign team and partners. Our news always appears in GM Poverty Action’s fortnightly newsletter, so if you would like to hear from us regularly please sign up here.

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July 9th, 2018

Goodbye from Lynn as GM Living Wage Campaign Coordinator

Lynn Sbaih, GM Living Wage campaign for GM Poverty Action

Lynn Sbaih

I will be stepping down from the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign Coordinator role in mid-July to spend more time developing my community business, so this is my last news item for this column.

I have enjoyed working with the Campaign Group, as well as with colleagues from the Living Wage Foundation, GM Citizens and many other local partners, over the last twelve months. We have all made much progress in this time including crowd-sourcing a comprehensive set of recommendations to the GM Good Employment Charter and setting the plans and actions in place for the coming months. Already it looks like this year’s Living Wage Week will be great and will mark the fifth anniversary of the GM Living Wage Campaign.

Greater Manchester Poverty Action will be working with the Campaign activists to take this work forward, so watch this space for developments and ways in which you can continue to get involved.

As for me, I will be developing my community business and will also continue to raise the profile of the real Living Wage, and good employment charter, with my corporate and social enterprise colleagues in Stockport.

Wishing you all the best and hope all your Living Wage and good employment work continues to go from strength to strength.

GM Poverty Action want to thank Lynn for strengthening the campaign group, signing up many local businesses to become accredited Living Wage employers, influencing the Greater Manchester-wide agenda for good employment, and for being a great team member. We will miss Lynn and wish her all the best with her community business, and of course in her ongoing support in a personal capacity for the real Living Wage.

June 26th, 2018

Chris Dabbs, and his team at Unlimited Potential, are congratulated on their recent Living Wage Foundation Award for Industry Leadership.

Unlimited Potential award photo for GM Poverty Action

Marcia, Debs. Chris and Sue at Unlimited Potential

Unlimited Potential, whose work supports people to lead happier and healthier lives, won the Living Wage Foundation’s Industry Leadership Award thanks to its dedication to promoting the real Living Wage through Salford’s Health and Wellbeing Board. 

Through Unlimited Potential’s leadership, the Board agreed to establish a multi-sectoral Living Wage task group, chaired by Unlimited
Potential’s chief executive, Chris Dabbs. It has so far successfully supported the accreditation of 11 major Salford health and care organisations as Living Wage employers.

Chris said: “We’re delighted that once again the city of Salford is being recognised for its commitment to the real Living Wage. The accreditation of the 11 organisations is just another step to our city becoming the country’s first fully Living Wage health and social care system by 2021.

“The award is a testament to all of the organisations that have contributed to the progress made on the real Living Wage in Salford. Unlimited Potential will continue to champion the need for all health and social care workplaces to implement the real Living Wage.”

GM Living Wage Campaign Group News

At our recent Campaign Group meeting, Chris Dabbs also gave a presentation on how we might nudge employers towards the Living Wage.

Chris introduced us to the EAST principles of 1) make it easy; 2) make it attractive; 3) make it social and 4) make it timely. He explained that if all four are applied, then it is possible to shift employer thinking about becoming an accredited Living Wage employer. He also explained that it is important to 1) define the problem from their perspective not ours, before applying the EAST principles and then 2) test, learn and adapt our use of the principles in the given context.

Living Wage Week: Lola McEvoy, from the Living Wage Foundation, shared some of their plans for this year’s Living Wage Week. This year, the Foundation will be celebrating the work of the Living Wage movements. They are planning to have celebrations in Manchester, with as much involvement as possible, from local people. This will include inviting those who have benefited from being paid the Living Wage to share the impact this has had on their lives. Working with the Foundation and our colleagues in GM Citizens, we hope to include a celebration of five years of the GM Living Wage Campaign, as well as running some targeted campaign actions.

Campaign Action: A planning meeting took place on May 22nd 2018 for an action to build pressure on a large locally based employer. We will build support and develop partnerships with MPs and trades unions, and are planning a big action to take place during Living Wage Week.

Greater Manchester Councils: We are keen to pick up our conversations with council leaders across the city region, to ensure that that those that need to, apply to the Living Wage Foundation for accreditation – currently Salford is the only accredited council in Greater Manchester, although Greater Manchester  Combined Authority also became accredited last year, and most councils have made some moves towards paying the Living Wage. Also, as our Campaign Group grows, we are identifying activists who have local links to councillors and others with leadership positions in their local council, to pick up the local Living Wage accreditation conversations.

GM Good Employment Charter: we continue to support meaningful engagement with the Charter as it moves into the second consultation round later this year.

Last but by no means least, it was reported that Debbie Leigh, John Leigh and Vicky Egerton have all stepped down from the Core Team. They were all thanked for all the help and support they have given to the Campaign, and we wished them all well in their future work.

June 11th, 2018

At the GM Living Wage Campaign meeting, on the 14th of March, attendees provided the information we needed to set out our objectives and associated intended outcomes and impacts for 2018-2019. However, this has led to more discussions about our year ahead. Including how we contribute to the changing Greater Manchester (GM) landscape of employment, work, wages and poverty. Included in this is the GM Good Employment Charter, which is likely to include a call to pay the real living wage, once live.

The changing GM context provides us with an opportunity to review how we work together, including:

  • How we all get involved in a range of campaigns.
  • How we contribute to increasing the number of GM employers applying, to the Living Wage Foundation, for accreditation

All of this will be discussed at the Campaign Group meeting on the 13th of June. I will then be sharing the results, of this discussion, in the next Newsletter at the end of June.

In the meantime you can contact Lynn by email or call 07948 549 485.

May 25th, 2018

We hope you can join us at our next GM Living Wage Campaign Group on June 13th, 2018 from 2 – 4pm at the GM Chamber of Commerce, Elliot House 151 Deansgate,Manchester M3 3WD.

Plan for the Meeting:

2.00 – 2.15pm Registration & coffee

2.15 – 2.45 pm Workshop run by Chris Dabbs, Chief Executive, Unlimited Potential: Nudging towards the real Living Wage: Persuading more employers to adopt the real Living Wage, and then to become accredited Living Wage employers requires some nudging. The good news is that there is evidence about what can work to achieve this behaviour change. This workshop will introduce some basics of behaviour change and how these might be applied for the real Living Wage.

2.45 – 3.15pm Coffee and catch ups

3.15 – 3.30pm Update on Campaign actions

3.30 – 3.45pm Update from the Living Wage Foundation

3.45 – 4.00pm Update from GM Citizens

These are exciting times and together we can make a real difference to people working in Greater Manchester, so please join us on June 13th.  In the meantime, should you have any questions, queries, comments or suggestions, please do get in touch via email to  Lynn or call 07948 549485.

May 14th, 2018

Persuasive Evidence

Persuasion began with the Greeks and Aristotle, with an emphasis on rhetoric and elocution. To succeed Aristotle advocated three proofs: ethos (credibility), logos (reason) and pathos (emotion). The relevance of persuasion is still a real imperative in modern business contexts and one which we, at the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign, are keen to learn more about.

How can we persuade employers to take the steps to become a real Living Wage employer? What are the barriers to following through to Accreditation? What behaviours lead to employers making changes?  What can we learn about influencing behaviours of employers?

Why not come along to our next Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign Meeting from 2 – 4pm on June 13th 2018 at GM Chamber of Commerce, Elliot House, 151 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WD?

Chris Dabbs, Chief Executive at Unlimited Potential, will be presenting a workshop called ‘Nudging towards the real Living Wage’ where he will share some ideas about what can work to achieve behavioural changes in employers and how we might apply these ideas when influencing about the real Living Wage.

Email Lynn or call 07948 549485 to receive your invitation

Article written by Debbie Leigh, Core Team, Campaign Support

April 27th, 2018

Meetings

We hope you can join us on May 22nd  from 2pm – 3.30pm, at the Manchester Universities’ Catholic Chaplaincy, Avila House, 335-337 Oxford Road, M13 9PG. At this meeting, we are going to begin planning some action that, we hope, will enable the Cooperative Group to agree to become an accredited Living Wage employer. The decision to target the Cooperative Group was decided at our last Campaign Meeting in March.

Following this meeting, agreed actions will take place on May  29th from 2pm onwards. We hope you can join us on both days. Alternatively, if you cannot attend on one or both days, but would like to get involved in other, future action, then please do get in touch via the contact details below.

These are exciting times and together we can make a real difference to people working in Greater Manchester. So please join us on May 22nd and 29th.

April 17th, 2018

Discrimination against the Young

At GM Living Wage Campaign we are working to achieve a Real Living Wage for all.  Meanwhile it is important to assist under 25’s to achieve any additional income to boost poverty wages. The Young Women’s Trust surveyed 4,000 young people to give them a voice. Their survey is called ‘Paid Less Worth Less?’ 1  The survey found that 80% of employers agreed that ‘young people should be paid the same as older people for the same work’ and of the young people surveyed, four out of five think the National Living Wage should be extended to under 25’s. This is an comparison based on the latest National Living Wage:

Age 25 and over    Hourly Rate £7.83  Annual Income *  £14,250.60
Aged 21 to 24        Hourly Rate £7.38  Annual Income   £13.431.60        £819.00 less than 25+
Aged 18 to 21        Hourly Rate £5.90  Annual Income   £10,738.00        £3,512.60 less than 25+
Under 18               Hourly Rate £4.20  Annual Income   £7,644.00           £6,606.60 less than 25+
Apprentice             Hourly Rate £3.70  Annual Income   £6,734.00           £7,516.60 less than 25+

As you can see under 25’s would benefit greatly from an increased income.

Citizens Advice Manchester2 (CAB) have also carried out research and they agree that poverty pay leads to anxiety, mental and physical health issues. There is an assumption that under 25’s live with parents and are not responsible for housing costs but in fact 65.7 % of CAB’s respondents are responsible for housing costs.  Vicky Egerton is leading on the Living Wage policy influencing campaign at CAB Manchester and will be writing an article about this research urging action to influence MPs to attend the ‘National Living Wage Extension to Young People Bill’ in July 2018. You can read more about the campaign here.

Article written by Deborah Leigh, GM Living Wage Campaign Support.

References:     1 Paid Less Worth Less’ October 2017 Young Women’s Trust‘.   2 Citizens Advice Manchester     * all based on a 35 hour week

March 26th, 2018

Is Low Pay Good for Business? (2)

Successive UK governments have encouraged business models that rely on people being willing to work for low pay. Our economy is hooked on cheap labour. The government subsidises low pay through the benefits system, at great cost to the Exchequer, allowing businesses to get away with offering staff poor terms and conditions. Many employers recognise the short-sightedness of this approach, but business generally still sees wages as a burden rather than an investment. Here is the second of our series of articles in 2018.

This enquiry concerns employee and customer churn. A recent study found that the turnover rate for the restaurants and accommodations sector was 72% in 2015. (CoreHR.com*) That means a regular customer to a restaurant will notice that the friendly, competent person who waited on them last time has probably left.

Does this affect customers? Of course. My wife and I had the bizarre experience of opening our own wine in a restaurant because the waiter did not know how to do it. In a French restaurant! We’ve never been back. There are hundreds of such establishments. Many serve good food and drink. The differentiator is service. Losing good staff and replacing them with new, inexperienced hires loses
customers. Cost saving? Or business suicide?

John Leigh, GM Living Wage Campaign

* Feel the Churn: Tackling High Turnover Rates in Hospitality and Retail

February 27th, 2018

It is nearly time for our next Campaign meeting on March 14th, 2018 from 2 – 4pm and we hope you can join us! It will be an interactive meeting, as we want you to have the opportunity to help shape the Campaign Group work for the next few months.

Potential areas for our work include: young people 18-24; voluntary and not for profit sector;
social care; public sector and education; retail and big employers such as Manchester Airport.

Overall, we want to continue to:

• Support more employers, across the whole of Greater Manchester (GM) to become accredited Living Wage employers.

• Build partnerships to take our work forward.

• Raise awareness about the real Living Wage.

• Support the creation of the GM Good Employment Charter

These are exciting times and together we can make a real difference to people working in Greater Manchester. So please
join us on March 14th (More information & book) .


February 12th, 2018

Is Low Pay Good for Business? (1)

Since 2010, successive governments have argued that British business needs a workforce that will work for low pay. The government supports low pay with benefits that “top up” the incomes of families whose pay will not meet their needs. Businesses agree with this way of thinking. But do the facts actually bear scrutiny? We look at the issue over a series of articles in 2018.

John Leigh GM Living Wage Campaign for GM Poverty Action

John Leigh, GM Living Wage Campaign

Our first enquiry concerns staff turnover. Minimum-wage employees have no incentive to stay with one employer. They change jobs to get an easier commute or any number of other reasons. Low-paying companies suffer high staff turnover. What does this cost? A survey by HRreview1 quotes a figure of £20,114 per employee as the cost of re-employing one member of staff in retail. HRreview cites the following costs: lost management time; direct recruitment costs; overtime to cover the vacancy; and the big one, lost productivity while the new member of staff gets to know the job; for retail, an average of 23 weeks. A cost of £20K to replace an employee who earned £15,600? Doesn’t sound like good business, does it?

John Leigh, GM Living Wage Campaign

1 HR Review

January 30th, 2018

We need your help! Do you know of an employer that is paying the Living Wage, but is not yet accredited?

According to the Living Wage Foundation:

• 86% of employers have reported that being accredited has enhanced their reputation.

•  80% reported that they saw an increase in the quality of work.

• 75% reported improved staff retention and motivation.

So, if you know an employer, that now needs to apply to become an accredited employer, please ask them to contact the Living Wage Foundation, to begin the process.

Alternatively, just let us know and we will get in touch with them, and refer them to the Living Wage Foundation.

These are exciting times and together we can make a real difference to people working in Greater Manchester.  Also, please remember that the next meeting of the Campaign Group will take place on March14th 2018.  Further details will be available in the very near future.

January 15th, 2018

Happy New Year! We hope you can join us on our GM Living Wage journey this year, starting with attending our Campaign Group meeting on:  Wednesday March 14th 2- 4pm. This meeting will be organised using the World Café principles, as we want you to have the opportunity to help shape the Campaign Group work for the next few months.

Potential areas for our work include: young people 18 -24; voluntary and not for profit sector; social care; public sector and education; retail and a big employer such as Manchester Airport.    Overall, we want to continue to:

• Support more employers, across the whole of Greater Manchester to become accredited Living Wage employers;

• Build partnerships to take our work forward;

• Raise awareness about the real Living Wage;

• Support the creation of the GM Good Employment Charter.

These are exciting times and together we can make a real difference to people working in Greater Manchester. So please join us on March 14th.  Further details will be available in the very near future.

December 11th, 2017

We recently attended the Local Approaches to Improving the Quality of Work event organised by the Inclusive Growth Analysis Unit  in Manchester.  The event was chaired by Ben Lucas of Metro-dynamics and speakers included:

Lesley Giles, Work Foundation

Matthew Taylor, The RSA

Stephen Clarke, Resolution Foundation

Damian Grimshaw, University of Manchester Alliance Business School

Carol Atkinson, Manchester Metropolitan University

and Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

Headlines: We need to:

Use the devolution agenda to reduce in-work poverty via paying the real Living wage. As illustrated in the following  Joseph Rowntree Foundation report

Work together, across the sectors, to create inclusive workplaces where employees can develop their abilities, skills and knowledge, via a local employability framework, that promotes retention and progression.  At the same time, employees should be supported to manage their physical and mental health.

Consider, across Greater Manchester how we can measure progress on the good work agenda, including increasing productivity in the workplace.

Consider the four I’s:
1) intention to promote good work;
2) intelligence to identify good practices;
3) integrate with relevant agendas and
4) encourage innovation from all the workforce.

More about how we can build on this in the new year, via our continuing contribution to the GM Good Employment Charter. In the meantime, have a great Christmas and New Year!

November 29th

We had a great Living Wage Week and hope you did too. As you may know, we ran three events, during Living Wage Week supporting the GM Combined Authority led public engagement process for the proposed GM Good Employment Charter.

Our thanks to everyone who attended and contributed to the events. Also to our hosts and everyone who made them such a success. Since Living Wage Week, we have been collating all the feedback, and notes, from the events. By the end of November, we will have submitted a report, containing all the feedback, to the GM Combined Authority so that they can add it too all the other public consultation feedback.

Once we have submitted the report, we do not see this as the end of our involvement and anticipate that we will be continuing to help shape the content of the proposed Good Employment Charter. If this something that you would like to be involved in, then please do let Lynn, the Co-Ordinator know. Also, if you have some Living Wage news of your own that you would like to share here, again please get in contact via email  or 07948 549 485.

November 13th

Living Wage Week

During Living Wage Week this year, we ran a series of events in Bolton, Oldham and Salford. These were part of the GM Combined Authority led public engagement process for the proposed GM Good Employment Charter. About 100 people attended and gave their views on how the Charter should be developed.

A big thank you to everyone who made it possible for us to run these events. Also, a big thank you to everyone who attended; your contributions will help shape our GM Good Employment Charter.  Also, as part of the week, we attended events organized by our partners, GM Citizens. These included the unveiling of the Living Wage plaque, at the University of Manchester Students Union and the candlelight vigil outside BUPA Gorton Parks Nursing and Residential Care Home. A fantastic week where the real Living Wage message was indeed spread across Greater Manchester.

Living Wage week the meeting in Bolton for GM Poverty Action

The meeting in Bolton

Living Wage Week meeting showing 3 people for GM Poverty Action

Nancy Brown, Oxfam, Sue Howarth , Bolton MBC and Peter Urwin, Unison at the Bolton meeting

Living Wage Week at Gorton for GM Poverty Action

The candlelight vigil outside BUPA in Gorton. On the left is Afzal Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton

Living Wage Week for GM Poverty Action

Attendees at the unveiling of the
Living Wage Plaque at the
University of Manchester Students’ Union

 

October 30th

Living Wage Weekthe annual celebration of the Living Wage movement in the UK – commences on Sunday November 5th and there are a range of events for you to attend and support.

The Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign, hosted by GMPA, is running three events, supporting the GM Combined Authority led public engagement process for the proposed GM Good Employment Charter:

Tuesday November 7th 8 – 10am
Hosted by Darren Knight, Chief Officer, Bolton CVS
Venue: Bolton Hub, Bold St, Bolton BL1 1LS

Thursday November 9th 8 – 10am
Hosted by Ben Gilchrist, Deputy Chief Executive Action Together
Venue: First Choice Homes Oldham First Place, 22 Union Street, Oldham. OL1 1BE

Friday 10th November 10.30am – 1pm (this agenda also includes an additional Living Wage item)
Hosted by Alison Page Chief Executive Salford CVS
Venue: The Angel Centre, 1 St Philip’s Pl, Salford M3 6FA

These events will be an opportunity for you to raise your questions as well as feed in your thoughts and hopes for the Charter. Please contact  Lynn Sbaih to register your attendance.   For more information, please see Good Jobs in Greater Manchester: the role of employment charters   Other events in Living Wage Week:

Monday November 6th Our colleagues, from the Living Wage Foundation and GM Citizens, will be in Manchester to announce the new real Living Wage rate. Please look out for news about the time and venue.

Wednesday November 8th Unison will be visiting University of Manchester Students’ Union and on Thursday November 9th, they will be visiting The Union, Manchester Metropolitan University. They will also be visiting other colleges, around Greater Manchester, throughout Living Wage Week. This is to highlight and support the fact that young workers, under 25 years, also need to be paid a real Living Wage.

Wednesday November 8th 1pm: Outside the University of Manchester Students’ Union, there will be an unveiling of their main Living Wage plaque.

Thursday November 9th 7.30 – 8pm: Unison will be holding a vigil outside BUPA Gorton Parks Nursing and Residential Care Home, M18 8DF. The vigil is dedicated to BUPA staff who are not paid the real Living Wage. Please meet at Gorton Park, across the road from the care home, at 1900.

We hope you will join us at all these events, during Living Wage Week, as well as on social media, and help spread the real Living Wage message across Greater Manchester.

October 17th

It is 17 days to Living Wage Weekthe annual celebration of the Living Wage movement in the UK – which commences on Sunday November 5th, 2017.

We are running three events this year. These events will support the GM Combined Authority led public engagement process for the
proposed GM Good Employment Charter.

Tuesday November 7th  8 – 10am: Hosted by Darren Knight, Chief Officer, Bolton CVS
Venue: Bolton Hub, Bold St, Bolton BL1 1LS

Thursday November 9th  8 – 10am:
Hosted by Ben Gilchrist, Deputy Chief Executive Action Together, Tameside
Venue: First Choice Homes Oldham First Place, 22 Union Street, Oldham. OL1 1BE

Friday 10th November 10.20am – 1pm (this agenda also includes an additional Living Wage item)
Hosted by Alison Page Chief Executive Salford CVS
Venue: The Angel Centre (home of Social adVentures), 1 St Philip’s Pl, Salford M3 6FA

For more information, please see Good Jobs in Greater Manchester: the role of employment charters

We hope you can join us and add your thoughts, suggestions and questions to the creation of a GM Good Employment Charter.

Please contact the GM Living Wage Coordinator, Lynn Sbaih, to let her know you will be attending via 07948549485 or email Lynn.Sbaih@gmlivingwage.org

October 2nd, 2017

The Real Living Wage is good for business!

Cardiff University’s “The Living Wage Employer Experience” interviewed real Living Wage employers about the impact of accreditation:

• 93% of employers reported they had benefited as a business

• 58% of employers saw an improvement in the motivation of staff

• 50% reported that it had improved both recruitment and retention

• 45% reported that it had improved the quality of applications for Living Wage jobs

• 86% reported that it had enhanced their organisation’s general reputation as an employer

• 64% found that it differentiated them from others in their industry

• 44% reported improved relations with public bodies or politicians

Please visit our partners the Living Wage Foundation to find out more about becoming an accredited Living Wage Employer.

It is 31 days to Living Wage Week the annual celebration of the Living Wage movement in the UK – which commences on Sunday November 5th.

Please watch this space for details of our events, and to get involved come along to the Campaign meeting on October 10th, 2 – 4pm, at 3rd Floor, Church House, 90 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2GH.

September 6th, 2017

We are now getting ready for Living Wage Week, which commences on Monday the 6th of November this year, when representatives from the Living Wage Foundation will be in Manchester to announce the new Living Wage rate.

Our local Campaign theme during Living Wage Week, will be the Good Employment Charter which was part of Andy Burnham’s Manifesto.  Should you want to know more about employment charters, GMPA’s and IGAU’s “Good jobs in Greater Manchester: the role of employment charters” provides a comprehensive introduction:

You may also know of, or be involved in, plans for a Living Wage Week event. If so please do let us know, so that we can help you share the details of your event, via: our webpage, our regular news slot in this Newsletter, and via our social media.

To help you get involved in all the local Living Wage Week activities and events, we plan to have a Campaign meeting at 2-4pm on Tuesday 10th October, at 3rd Floor, Church House, 90 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2GH, so please ensure you are signed up to receive details of this meeting, by contacting me by email at Lynn.Sbaih@gmlivingwage.org or on 07948 549 485.

 

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Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign

Greater Manchester Poverty Action is now hosting the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign, having taken it on from Church Action on Poverty. We want to thank Church Action for having convened and hosted the campaign for the last four years. It has been a real success story for Greater Manchester with around eight times more accredited Living Wage employers than at the time of its launch.

Lynn Sbaih, Living Wage campaign coordinator for GM Poverty Action

Dr Lynn Sbaih chairing the National Living Wage Week event in 2016.Pictured with Amy Hulme, Programme Manager at the Living Wage Foundation and Clive Memmott, CEO at the GM Chamber of Commerce.
Photo Credit: Christopher Worrall Photography

Following the resignation of campaign coordinator Alec Spencer, whom we also want to thank for his strategic and unwavering dedication to the cause, we are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Lynn Sbaih as the new coordinator, and therefore the newest addition to the GMPA team. She was already a core team member of the GM Living Wage campaign, and chaired last year’s National Living Wage Week event.

If you would like to support the campaign or to find out more, please contact Lynn at lynn.sbaih@gmlivingwage.org or 07948 549 485

News

This is a side note, but a very important one! Coincidentally – we started the accreditation process before being approached by Church Action on Poverty about hosting the campaign – GMPA is now an accredited Living Wage employer.We would encourage every employer, large or small, to commit themselves to paying the Living Wage (currently £8.45 per hour outside London) to all of their directly employed and contracted staff by becoming accredited through our partners the Living Wage Foundation.

 

 

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Taking action on local employment issues: how far can voluntary employment charter initiatives take us?

As the Greater Manchester mayoral election approaches, a key issue on the candidates’ agendas is raising employment standards across the city. Greater Manchester Poverty Action has been working with Ceri Hughes from the Inclusive Growth Analysis Unit and Emily Ball from Oxfam GB to examine the role that local employment charters can play in addressing labour market issues such as low-paid, insecure employment. Here, our co-authors Ceri and Emily summarise some of the points of our paper, which you can read here.

What is a local charter?

Local employment charters are voluntary initiatives that set out to describe good employment practices and to recognise those employers that adopt them. A number of local authorities have developed their own employment charters, including Salford and Oldham.

There are some clear reasons for focussing on employment standards in the city region. For one thing, 23% of the jobs done by the residents of Greater Manchester are paid less than the Living Wage and by 2020 the Resolution Foundation estimates that 1 in 6 workers in the region will be on the minimum wage. Meanwhile, 180,000 working-age people have no qualifications which can make it difficult for them to enter and progress in work.

Employment charters may help us to achieve a more inclusive labour market that offers more people the opportunity to take part in rewarding, well-paid work, thereby addressing many causes of in-work poverty.

The impact of voluntary local action on employment standards

Local employment charters can encourage and support employers to change their practices and drive up standards. The charters can provide direction, tools and resources for employers interested in offering good employment as well as helping to establish a standard. This can make some headway in outlining fair and decent pay and employment conditions, recruitment practices, employee engagement and investment in training and development.

However, there are limits to what they can achieve. They are usually voluntary initiatives and tend to engage directly only with a small number of employers. The commitments also usually only address the issues affecting current and potential employees, leaving out those people working within a company’s supply chain. (The Living Wage accreditation scheme is a notable exception and has been promoted through some employment charters.)

Maintaining momentum and pushing for organisational change is challenging, particularly where there is limited resource to support business engagement. Many charters offer ‘incentives’ and an accreditation process to encourage engagement. Some require businesses to sign up to the charter to access council contracts or, in one example, to access a business rate discount for small employers. But regardless of the incentives, charters must be well resourced and regularly promoted and monitored.

An employment charter for Greater Manchester

We argue that for an employment charter for Greater Manchester to be successful, due care and consideration needs to be taken when making choices about its design, implementation and reviewing process.

Recommendations include:

  • Establishing a dedicated independent working group to co-design the charter, with representatives from local authorities, businesses, workers and their representatives, and other stakeholders and experts;
  • Being clear on the expected impact; setting out deliverable and measurable commitments and showing how the charter fits within a wider agenda for inclusive growth;
  • Balancing flexibility, rigour, and incentives for businesses across different sectors to increase engagement;
  • Ensuring robust monitoring is built in along with the resource that is required to support business engagement and accountability.By learning from the strengths and understanding the limitations of existing charters, Greater Manchester could really test the potential
    of voluntary employment charters.
Ceri Hughes, IGAU for Employment Charter article for GM Poverty Action

Ceri Hughes from the IGAU

Emily Ball from Oxfam, W&W article for GM Poverty Action

Emily Ball from Oxfam

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 Better Jobs for Greater Manchester – What Can the Mayor Do?

IGAU logo for GM Poverty Action articleAs part of the ongoing Work and Wages series, Ceri Hughes from the Inclusive Growth Analysis Unit writes about some of the employment challenges facing Greater Manchester, and what the new mayor might do to address them.

Shortly after the election on May 4th the new Mayor for Greater Manchester will take up their post. Their working hours will likely be long but they will also have one of the more rewarding jobs in the city region. Our research shows that 23% of people living in this city are in jobs that pay below the Living Wage, while many more are unable to find work or are doing work that does not match their interests or needs. For example, less than half of working-age disabled people are in work in Greater Manchester (43% compared to 47% for the UK as a whole) and there are also wide disparities in employment rates across the city region.

These are just a few of the symptoms of the flexible, service-oriented labour market that operates across the city region and they won’t be ‘solved’ by one person, but local action can be taken to support people to find work that means something to them.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have put forward several ideas for improving the quality of jobs in Greater Manchester. One idea is for the Mayor to work with businesses and industry bodies to try to raise productivity in low-paying sectors and boost wages. This would mean turning the focus on sectors such as retail, care and hospitality and could have a real impact: together low paying sectors account for over a third (36%) of the jobs in Greater Manchester. Previous blogs in this series have also called on local leadership to establish a Living Wage Zone in Greater Manchester and in a forthcoming paper we will also consider the role that employment charters can play in changing employment practices and raising standards for people in Greater Manchester.

The point is not just to tackle low pay but also to create opportunities for people to move into rewarding and better paid roles. Oldham, for example, is now trialling a Careers Advancement Service that aims to support 400 low skilled residents to progress in work. The Mayor could build on this initiative, trialling different approaches to support people to progress in work. We also urgently need find ways to support the long-term unemployed, disabled people and others that have not been served well by mainstream employment support services.

IGAU Work and Wages what can the GM Mayor do for GM Poverty Action

Ceri Hughes

This is only the start, but it hopefully illustrates that the Mayor can play a decisive role in championing these issues. There is scope for them to work with, and lessons to learn from, existing projects across Greater Manchester and elsewhere.

Suggested actions for the Mayor and city region leadership:

Work with businesses and industry bodies to develop strategies to raise productivity in low-paying sectors;

Take on the employment challenges facing the long-term unemployed and others.

Test employment support programmes that build on the evidence and extend support to those who move in to low-wage work;

Find out more about these ideas, or get in touch to share your own  @Ceridwenhughes

Further reading: JRF Mayoral Briefing Paper
and IGAU “How the Mayor can help to deliver inclusive growth”  

 

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