“I have three small children to look after and not knowing my shift patterns until a week before made it difficult to plan time together and organise childcare. Now I’ve moved on to a permanent contract that reflects my hours I feel more valued by my employer and can plan ahead to put money aside.”
New research commissioned by the LWF revealed that one in six – more than five million workers – are stuck in low-paid, insecure work like short-term contracts with little option but to accept unpredictable pay and hours. Two million of them are parents, and people from BAME backgrounds are disproportionately affected.
A former theme park worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “Our rota for the week was sent out on Sunday evenings and, with shifts regularly changing, I couldn’t plan my week and always felt that I had to be available to work.
A shift cancelled at the last minute can be the difference between dinner that night or going hungry
“If the weather was bad or suddenly turned, the theme park would be closed and everyone sent home. Sometimes this meant giving up a whole day but only being paid for an hours’ work, or not at all, which didn’t even cover my bus fare to work.”
The figures also showed that workers in Wales, the North East and East Midlands were most likely to experience low pay and insecurity.
Some Living Wage employers have signed up to the scheme already including SSE, Standard Life Aberdeen and Richer Sounds.
The LWF estimates that its Living Wage efforts put almost £1bn extra into the pockets of more than 200,000 workers, but said pay is not the only driver of in-work poverty.
Katherine Chapman, LWF director, said: “Constant uncertainty over the number of hours, timings of your shifts or the amount of pay you’ll get each week places people under enormous pressure. A shift cancelled at the last minute might sound small, but it can be the difference between being able to pay for your family’s dinner that night or going hungry. And being expected to work at short notice means you can’t plan around other costs and commitments.
“We’ve consulted with hundreds of workers, employers and trade unions in drawing up these measures to ensure they are ambitious but achievable. We believe Living Hours will provide an important new measure to fight in-work poverty and to provide workers and their families with stability and security.”