How secure hours, reliable shifts and fair pay can impact lives for the better – Living Hours worker

“Having a higher wage and more free time with my family, helped my daughter pass her 11 Plus exam” – Living Hours employee from Enabled Living

Enabled Living is a council owned company which provides community equipment, occupational therapy service, sensory support and wheelchair and specialist services to the residents of Newham, in East London. The company helps people live the life they choose and provides support for many disabilities and impairments, for example prescribing wheelchairs to those who need them, and assessing and supporting people who are visually impaired, Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing.

Enabled Living puts people at the heart of everything it does, and that includes their staff members. It is proud to be not only a London Living Wage employer, but also a Living Hours employer. This means Enabled Living has committed to providing their staff with the right to at least 4 weeks’ notice of shifts, a contract that reflects actual hours worked and a minimum of 16 hours a week of work. 

This is particularly important in the health and social care sector, where low-paid, insecure work is often the norm. In London alone 94,000 jobs in the health and social care sector are insecure. 

Michael has been working as a Driver Fitter for Enabled Living for the past 3 and a half years. He is part of the Living Wage Foundation’s Leadership Academy which creates space for authentic leadership, for those who have first-hand experience of the difference that fair work makes to workers and their families. We spoke to Michael about his experience working for a Living Hours employer, he said:

“Working for Enabled Living has impacted my life for the better in so many different ways. Previously, I was working in the retail sector and I was plagued by antisocial hours, making it really difficult to help raise a family. I have 3 young children and since working for a Living Hours employer I have 4 extra hours on an evening to spend time with them, watch them grow up and support them. I also have elderly parents who, at times, rely on me and it means I can now look after them much easier.

Having a higher wage and more time has specifically helped my daughter pass her 11 Plus exam. I could even afford to pay for extra tuition, which was a massive help towards her success and future aspirations. I don’t think she’d have gotten that extra support with her education if I was still in the retail trade.

Working in that sector meant that I was unable to support my family in the way that I wanted to. My working hours, and therefore pay, was really unreliable in my last role. They’d often ask us to work overtime last minute, which led to us not being paid for those extra hours worked; due to being on a set monthly contract. No matter how many working hours we did, we were always paid for an 8-hour shift every day.

Image of Michael, dressed in a blue Enabled Living workers uniform stood in front of a brick wall

We would get paid extra if we met targets and sold more items, but this led to high wage discrepancies amongst staff and an uncomfortable and competitive atmosphere. It really depended on footfall in the shop and it would feel unfair, as you knew other staff in a busier area would be earning much more, while working the same hours. The company could also retract commission at its own discretion, for example if you made a sale but the deliveries were late – which was completely out of your control when working on the shop floor.

All this led to staff members having low self-esteem if they didn’t earn as much as their colleagues, and morale was often low. We all know that a happy workforce is a more productive workforce – I would guess that this environment was having a negative effect on the business.  Any employer not taking notice of staff morale, really is shooting themselves in the foot. That is why I joined the Living Wage Foundation’s Leadership Academy. I have been going to events and encouraging employers to sign up to paying the real Living Wage. I want to inspire more companies to support their staff in the right way and tell them how much it really can positively impact people for the better. 

I think that it’s so important for employers to sign up and be a Living Hours employer, as fair work is much more than just paying a real Living Wage. Following the Living Hours standards has a positive impact on employee job security and means that we can plan ahead for our future. 

It would be a much greater, and more productive society, if everyone could be paid not only a living wage that meets the current cost-of-living, but for everyone to be provided with regular and secure working hours. Increasing one person’s wage can have a knock-on effect and improve so many people’s lives for the better.

If I had my own business, I’d be looking at the bigger picture and the longer-term benefits, so I would definitely be signing up to pay the real Living Wage and working within Living Hours standards. You can see how successful good employers, who treat their staff well and provide job security, really are. Productivity really does grow when staff feel supported, so it’s important more employers take this into consideration.”

Find out how to become an accredited Living Hours employer here. 

Find out more about the scale and impact of insecure employment in London.