UK must combat unfulfilling jobs and commit to 'good work' economy, says Matthew Taylor

'Bad work is all too common. We need, therefore, to talk about quality of work, and not just quantity,' says man who is leading Government review into working practices

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The Independent Online

Persistent scandals over bad working conditions and insecure contracts demonstrate that society must do more to create fulfilling, decent jobs, according to the man leading a Government review into modern work.

“Bad work is all too common. We need, therefore, to talk about quality of work, and not just quantity,” Matthew Taylor, head of the Royal Society of Arts will say in a speech on Tuesday.

“For most of us, work is one of the most important things in our life,” so it should therefore be “good for us and good for society”, Mr Taylor will say.

“Ahead of the Government Review I will be publishing in the summer, now is the time to put good work on the national agenda.”

In the prepared remarks Mr Taylor will define good work as “fair and decent with scope for fulfilment and development”, something which should be a “realistic aspiration for people at all stages of their careers, in all types of employment and at all levels”. 

A number of recent high-profile cases have brought the issue of substandard working conditions to public attention.

In December, JD Sports announced an investigation into conditions at its main warehouse after an undercover film showed workers saying they were “treated like scum” and allegedly paid less than the minimum wage. 

Sports Direct was heavily criticised by MPs last year for what they described as “Victorian workhouse” conditions.

The rise of zero-hours contracts which offer no guarantee of work has also left many workers in a precarious financial position, while increasing numbers of people working in the gig economy have no income security or employment benefits.

New economy firms such as the cab-hailing app Uber and the food delivery firm Deliveroo have been accused by campaigners and some workers of dodging their legal and financial responsibilities to their workforce by designating them as self-employed contractors, rather than employees, meaning they miss out on holiday pay, the minimum wage and pension contributions.

The lecture follows the #GoodWorkIs social media initiative, which launched last week with backing from organisations including the TUC, Institute of Directors, Federation of Small Businesses, CIPD, Usdaw, Business in the Community, and the Carnegie UK Trust.

Mr Taylor, a former head of the Downing Street policy unit under Tony Blair, was commissioned by Prime Minister Theresa May to lead the review into working practices last October.

Mr Taylor will conduct a regional tour to areas including Maidstone, Coventry and Glasgow, speaking to workers and employers working in sectors such as the gig and rural economies and manufacturing, to fully understand the impact of modern working practices.