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Addressing working conditions will improve good health and wellbeing for all

Published: 25 May 2022

‘Fair work’ is a critical building block for good health and well-being, and a healthy engaged workforce contributes to business productivity and societal prosperity, concludes a report and guide published by Public Health Wales. 

Fair work is where workers are fairly rewarded, heard and represented, secure and able to progress in a healthy, inclusive environment where rights are respected.
Participation in fair work provides a sense of purpose and means that people have money and resources for a healthy life for them and their families. This reduces psychological stress, creates a stepping stone out of poverty and helps children have the best start in life. Fair work can contribute to an economy of well-being, improving outcomes for the whole population, including those most disadvantaged.

Dr Ciarán Humphreys, report co-author and Consultant in Public Health with the Wider Determinants of Health Unit, at Public Health Wales, said:

“People in Wales are dying early because of a lack of basic building blocks for health. Fair work, together with education, income, housing and our surroundings provide the building blocks to protect and build our health. Without these building blocks in place, people’s health and well-being suffer, leading to ill-health that is avoidable and unfair.

“Across Wales, before the pandemic over one in three premature years of life lost are linked to lack of basic building blocks for health. By strengthening these building blocks we can improve the health of our communities, especially those who need that support most.

“To address this, we convened an expert panel, with a wide range of expertise including academia, business, public and other sectors as well as lived experience, to support the development of recommendations to increase participation in fair work.

“By public bodies and organisations taking these recommendations forward and implementing a ‘Fair work’ mind set as an integral part of their planning processes, they and the communities they operate in can make a real difference where it counts; improving equity, adding years to life and realising co-benefits of increasing productivity, staff retention and in many cases, the bottom line.”

The Deputy Minister for Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn said:

“The Welsh Government is committed to making Wales a fair work nation because a better deal for workers is key to a more prosperous and equal Wales. I am pleased Public Health Wales has clearly recognised that fair work is good for our mental and physical health and well-being.  We all have a responsibility to take whatever steps we can to promote fair work and share good practice.  And I welcome Public Health Wales commitment to playing their part in championing fair work and its benefits.”   

The panel received evidence from Public Health Wales and subject experts, identified additional evidence, and brought member’s own expertise to formulate themes, opportunities and draft recommendations. Local authorities, health boards and others are asked to get best value for money getting better value for money through socially responsible procurement, partnering with business and addressing the barriers that stop some people accessing fair work.

These findings have been used to produce a guide and other material to influence local and regional partnerships to increase participation in fair work.