I first wrote about ‘in-work poverty’ back in 2016, referencing research from the Joseph Rowntree Organisation highlighting the growing number of households experiencing poverty, even when at least one person was working. Sadly, there is an even greater need to raise awareness and tackle similar issues, with rising inflation, soaring energy bills and new taxes.
A recent You Gov Survey provided a worrying insight into the financial vulnerabilities of many employees. It revealed that more than a quarter of respondents said money problems affected their job performance and less than half those surveyed felt they earned enough to save for retirement. This is backed up by further CIPD research showing 1 in 10 employees are not being paid enough to cover basic necessities without going into debt.
According to the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, a full time job on the National Living Wage in 2021 did not guarantee the minimum acceptable standard of living that we as a society consider everyone in the UK should be able to achieve. A single person needed to earn £20,400 a year to reach this standard, but the National Living Wage paid just £17,400.
This year the CIPD has joined forces with the Joseph Rowntree Organisation to promote good employment practices to support financial wellbeing and highlight the compelling business case for businesses to take a proactive role. They are asking all employers to consider their three-strand financial wellbeing policy to help minimise in-work poverty:
- Pay a fair and liveable wage – to help employees and workers meet a decent standard of living
- Provide financial wellbeing support – to help educate people about spending and saving good practice
- Support in-work progression – to help maximise employees’ earning potential by developing the skills they need to take on higher-paid roles
PAY A FAIR AND LIVEABLE WAGE
- Are your hourly rates of pay high enough to cover the real cost of living?
- Can workers request more stable or predictable hours?
- Do employees feel able to decline shifts that don’t suit them without repercussions?
- Do you offer occupational sick pay to enable people to take time off when sick?
PROVIDE FINANCIAL WELLBEING SUPPORT
- Do you provide employees with crisis loans to protect them from unexpected financial shocks?
- Can workers choose from a mix of different benefits, to suit their circumstances?
- Do you provide financial wellness programmes for your people?
- Do you have a process in place for spotting financial distress and sign-posting support?
SUPPORT IN-WORK PROGRESSION
- Do you promote a culture of lifelong learning, regardless of age, disability and other factors?
- Are you championing an inclusive flexible working culture that supports progression?
- Do you have a clear pay structure so that people know what they need to do to take on higher-paid roles?
- Are your managers trained to support, nurture and develop their team members to progress?
Developing a suitable financial wellbeing policy will be an important step in helping employees through the challenging months ahead but will also help build a healthier and more content workforce.
If you would like to provide more support for your employees, there are plenty of free resources and guides available from The Money Charity, as well as information about their workshops and seminars for businesses.