Amity Insight reports The Future of Work 18 Jul 2017
Head of RI Policy & Research
In November 2016 the UK Government launched a wide-ranging review of
‘Modern Employment Practices’ that would seek to be the most comprehensive
survey of the modern labour market. What lies behind the Government’s concern
is the subject of this Amity Insight.
Work is at a crossroads. Technology, the instrument of so much that is
positive in modern life, may also be the instrument of far reaching automation
that puts the survival of human work itself in doubt. At the same time,
technology has facilitated new types of labour in the ‘gig economy’ that is
nimble, flexible, insecure and unpredictable.
15% of the UK labour market is now defined as ‘self-employed’
especially in the area of short-term, insecure, casual ‘gigs’, ‘contracted’ via
the ‘app economy’. Typically, and most visibly, these include driving,
delivering and DIY tasks. The exponential growth in disruptive labour has left
legislation and regulation behind, with many struggling to make a living in a
low-wage environment with few structured benefits and securities.
As responsible investors we write frequently on the ‘E’ and ‘G’ in ESG
(Environment, Social and Governance), but the ‘S’ – the social impact of business
and investment, often gets overlooked. For one thing it is hard to measure. As
we show, the 19th and 20th centuries witnessed the long march of legislative
protection for workers – from outlawing the worst incidents of child labour in
Victorian times, to the struggle for equality more recently. These issues
matter – and should matter for investors.
In this Insight, we consider the twin pressures facing workers: growing
automation and low-wage-poor conditions. We explore why we support businesses
adopting the Living Wage, and take a first look at how companies are reporting
under the Modern Slavery Act.
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As always, we hope you enjoy this Amity Insight, and we welcome your comments and feedback.