Although the UK’s labour market has withstood the recession better than most other EU states, wage growth has been flat and the quality of work in many sectors has deteriorated. Our research shows that Britain has too many poor performing workplaces where employees are often badly treated, underpaid, over-worked and ignored. There is an urgent need to improve employment conditions and raise management standards as a means to boosting productivity and making work better.
We have been active in the debate on improving employment and published reports on: ‘Reform of the UK’s employment relations system’, the living wage and tackling low pay (‘Setting a fair pay standard’), in-work poverty (‘Just Deserts’), youth unemployment (‘Jobs guarantee’ and ‘Apprenticeships’) and on ‘The pay and employment effects of contracting out’. We have, for example, advised the Living Wage Commission, collaborated with the Work Foundation and Reed Foundation on the ‘Future of good work’, teamed up with Unison to study the impact of the public sector pay bill freeze (‘From pay freeze to staffing crisis’) and with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation on trends in part-time and temporary work.
Our research around the world of work agenda also covers research on industrial relations, productivity at work, workers on company boards, pay transparency, home-working and trade unions and collective bargaining. In 2015 we undertook a national inquiry into ‘Making Work Better’, the recommendations from which were welcomed by ACAS, the EEF (manufactures’ association) and TUC.
The Institute has worked with various organisations looking at women at work. We published a report on ‘Women in science, engineering and technology’ with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Institute of Physics and teamed up with the Construction Youth Trust and Construction Industry Training Board to advocate new policies to support ‘Women in construction’.
We have also undertaken research for London boroughs on combating youth unemployment and worked with MPs on new ideas to improve apprenticeships. We are currently undertaking a major study on productivity at work for Unions21.