Published: 14 November 2022
Employers paying staff a real living wage or above can protect and support good health and wellbeing for both the individual and society as a whole, experts at Public Health Wales have said.
The wider determinants of health team at Public Health Wales have stated that supporting a living wage for employees is more important now than ever. Especially for workers faced with the cost of living crisis and for employers in the health and social care sector struggling to recruit and retain staff.
Sufficient pay is a fundamental part of ‘Fair work’ - where workers are fairly rewarded, heard and represented, secure and able to progress in a healthy, inclusive environment where rights are respected.
Fair work is a critical building block for good health and well-being, allowing people to eat healthier, afford better housing and make healthier choices in life.
And a healthy engaged workforce contributes to business productivity and societal prosperity.
Dr Ciarán Humphreys, Consultant in Public Health at Public Health Wales, said:
“Employment rates have risen in recent years, however with continued income inequality and lack of sufficient pay this has had little impact on levels of poverty in Wales. Between 2010 and 2020 for working households, the number of children living in relative income poverty has increased from five in 10 to seven in 10.
“In addition to mental health impacts, financial distress has also been associated with higher levels of absenteeism and presenteeism, especially among women, those with lower education or financial literacy and those separated, divorced or single.
“Employers providing sufficient pay can help solve this problem. 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.”
Local and regional agencies can support inclusive participation in fair work by following the recommendations outlined in Delivering fair work for health well-being and equity guide, - an easy to use guide launched earlier this year by Public Health Wales.
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.
Charles Janczewski, Chair of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board:
“As one of the largest employers across south east Wales, we felt very strongly it was important to do the right thing and offer our staff the Living Wage. Many of our staff live in some of the most deprived communities in Wales and we know the connection between economic prosperity is one of the key determinants of good mental health. We are mindful of the additional pressures that the cost of living crisis is having on our incredibly hard-working staff, who are very often the lowest earners in the NHS.
"Offering the Living Wage is one of several ways in which we in the Health Board are listening to our staff and helping to support them through incredibly difficult and very often stressful times. I believe it's the right thing to do and am pleased that we have continued to offer all our staff the Living Wage since 1 April 2020 and will continue to do all that we can to support our staff through very challenging economic times.”
Additional resources for employers can be accessed at: