The worrying rise of in-work poverty

Julian cole portrait.

Julian Cole

Senior Solicitor

Phone 01264 353411


As families digest the soaring energy prices that have taken hold, the rising cost of living looks set to bring significant ongoing challenges for people in the UK.

And these will not be confined to home. While family life stands to be directly impacted, the pressures will inevitably spill over into work. A YouGov poll is reported to have found that one in four (28%) employees have money problems which affect their job performance. When it comes to those earning less than £20,000, that figure rises to 34%.

This is something employers need, and will be expected, to act on. That’s not just because there are employment law implications around the treatment of staff, or because it makes good business sense to maintain a happy, healthy workforce. But also because looking out for employees is the right thing to do.

The most obvious step for an employer to take is to ensure workers are paid properly for the work they do. This is about the amount they receive and also about paying workers on time. As well as being a contractual requirement, this consistency is vital in helping people manage their household and other expenses and reduce the pressures that come with financial fluctuations from month to month.

Salary fairness and certainty is one part of the picture. Employers have a huge role to play in supporting their workforce day-to-day, in all sorts of respects. We spend a great deal of time helping employer clients prepare company handbooks and individual policies that spell out their approach to everything, from training, to flexible working, to equality and diversity. Employees turn to these documents to understand what they can expect from their employer, including when it comes to wellbeing.  

As financial and other pressures on workers continue to build, so too will the need for better and more focussed wellbeing support at work. For some employers, this will mean designing a brand-new wellbeing strategy that takes account of the evolving needs of their workforce. For others, it will be a case of reviewing and updating existing support and making sure policies properly reflect that. (Perhaps your organisation is looking to introduce an Employee Assistance Programme, appoint ‘wellbeing champions’, or improve sick pay provisions so that workers who are ill can take time off without fear of that adding to their financial problems.)

The specifics of workplace policies range from business to business. But underpinning them should be a thorough understanding of workers, the organisation, and how the two can best work together. Our team is here to help make sure you get things right from an employment law, HR and best practice perspective.  

So, if you have particular concerns about an employee, or if you’re looking to put in place changes, benefits or policies, talk to us on 01264 353411 or at

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