UK companies urged to commit to Living Hours initiative

Providing employees with guaranteed weekly hours will improve productivity and help economy move sustainably out of this crisis

The Church Investors Group, representing 60 members and more than £21bn in assets, is calling on UK corporates to provide guaranteed minimum working hours each week for their employees bringing security to them and their families, as well as benefits to the economy.

In a statement, the Church Investors Group said the pandemic has exacerbated work insecurity for millions of low-paid workers. Prior to Covid-19, more than five million people in the UK – including key workers and parents – were in low paid, insecure work and this number is expected to rise substantially.

As a result, the group is encouraging companies to commit to the Living Hours Initiative to make working conditions more secure, for the benefit of families and the economy to be able to sustainably move out of this crisis.

The Living Hours initiative calls on employers to provide the right to:

  • Decent notice period for shifts: of at least 4 weeks’ notice with guaranteed payment if shifts are cancelled within this notice period.
  • Accurate contracts: the right to a contract that reflects actual hours worked.
  • Guaranteed minimum hours: of 16 hours of work a week (unless the worker requests otherwise).

The investors will initially target the finance and insurance sectors and then extend its engagement later this year to the construction and utilities space.

See also: – ‘Enabling’ investment into healthy supply chains

The Revd Canon Edward Carter, chair of the Church Investors Group, said: “Church investors are deeply committed to supporting workers’ access to decent pay and hours. Insecure hours affect too many low-paid workers and without the security minimum hours bring, workers and their families are denied the basic preconditions needed for them to flourish.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has made this issue even more pressing as a lack of sufficient working hours is causing ‘in work’ poverty while the insecurity of working hours has a real effect on families’ wellbeing, causing significant stress and leading to mental health issues.”

The Church Investors Group’s advocacy for the Living Hours initiative follows its commitment to the Living Wage initiative, which commenced in 2012. It said the Living Wage movement has increased the pay of more than 250,000 people and put more than £1.3bn extra into the pockets of low-paid workers in the UK.

Josephine Carlsson, responsible for leading the Church Investors Group secretariat highlighted it is not just the workers who will benefit from companies signing up to the Living Hours initiative.

“A number of organisations have suggested a correlation between insecure work and productivity. The British economy has been failing to deliver higher wages and more sustainable growth and the increase in insecurity may be partly responsible. Workers with little security are likely to be less committed, so the Church Investors Group believes the Living Hours initiative can also deliver positive benefits for companies that adopt it, as well as society at large.”


Natalie Kenway

Natalie is editor in chief at MA Financial covering ESG Clarity, Portfolio Adviser and International Adviser. She was previously global head of ESG insight for ESG Clarity and has been an investment journalist...