Insecure low-paid work is bad for health
This week the Marmot Review, the Department of Health’s Strategic Review of Health Inequalities, was published. Its remit was to “focus on the social determinants of health and in particular, the way they influence health inequalities”. A review that starts with quote from Pablo Neruda seems unlikely to be limited in its scope, and the Marmot Review does not disappoint, taking a forensic and brutally honest look at the reality of the social causes of ill health.
The review identifies six policy recommendations, which reflect a life course perspective, recognising that disadvatage starts before birth and accumulates throughout life. All are important, in particular Policy Objective C, which calls for the creation of “fair employment and good work for all” in recognition of the reality that:
Work is good – and unemployment bad – for physical and mental health, but the quality of work matters. Getting people off benefits and into low paid, insecure and health-damaging work is not a desirable option
Specifically, the report identifies the importance of active labour market policies to reduce long-term unemployment (a Job Guarantee would be a good example), and for the development of greater security and flexibility in employment.
The TUC share the review’s concerns about the low-pay, no-pay labour market cycle (we’ll be hearing the views of Professor John Hills on this and other issues at a seminar at Congress House on 12th March – register here if you’re interested), and the contribution that poor terms and conditions of employment make to its continuation. As long as the law enables the creation of extreme insecurity at the bottom of the labour market poor health, poor progression, recurrent poverty and low pay will continue. Lets hope for a Government that will heed the review’s call to “rise up with me against the organisation of misery”.