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Guidance and information on what fair work is.

First published:
19 December 2022
Last updated:

What is fair work

Fair work is work which fulfils the rights of workers, supports worker wellbeing, and provides workers with a voice. Fair work is the presence of observable conditions at work which means workers are fairly rewarded, heard and represented, and can progress in a secure, healthy, and inclusive working environment, where their rights as workers are respected. 

What are the benefits of providing fair work

The case for fair work has a moral imperative, treating workers with dignity and respect is simply the right thing to do; a wellbeing imperative, because unfair work has a negative impact on physical and mental well-being; and an economic and business imperative. Fair work is good for our economy, productivity and other aspects of business performance: 

  • A workforce that is fairly rewarded, engaged and valued is likely to lead to better workforce morale, understanding and commitment to the business and its objectives. 
  • Providing fair work with decent pay, terms and conditions may help your business to recruit and retain workers and reduce the costs of staff turnover. 
  • Workers who are treated with dignity and respect at work are likely to be more productive and committed. They may be more inclined to invest in their skills and learning. Ensuring workers are heard and represented can help the business to capture ideas, creativity and innovation.
  • Fair work can contribute to physical and mental health and wider well-being.  Working conditions attuned to worker well-being can lead to lower rates of workforce churn and absenteeism. 
  • Embedding fair work can help a business to reap the benefits of a more equal, diverse and inclusive workforce and the increased skill and talent pool that provides. 

How to implement fair work

Outlined below are some illustrative examples of steps employers could take.

Fair reward

  • The employer pays all workers at least the real living wage (RLW) or the employer has committed to working toward paying all staff at least the RLW.
  • The employer has committed to achieving living wage foundation accreditation and/or to provision of above statutory sick pay.

Employee voice and collective representation

  • The employer allows access to Trade Unions and adheres to collective agreements where these apply. 
  • The employer has effective formal and informal arrangements to ensure individual and collective employee voice is heard. 

Security and flexibility

  • Non–guaranteed (zero hours) contracts are not unilaterally imposed upon workers and workers are given sufficient notice of shift patterns and any changes. 
  • The employer uses flexibility in job-design, working hours and remote working to promote inclusion and better work-life balance. 
  • The employer commits to ensuring workers are offered the security of guaranteed minimum hours and (where reasonable and practicable) the offer of remote and other forms of flexible working that improve work/life balance and well-being. 

Opportunity for access, growth and progression

  • Good quality and relevant learning and development is accessible to all workers.
  • All workers have access to, and receive training in, equality, inclusion, and diversity. 

Safe, healthy and inclusive working environment

  • The employer collects data to track its workforce diversity and has effective processes in place to tackle workplace bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
  • Effective health and safety measures are in place and are communicated and regularly reviewed in consultation with workers.
  • The employer commits to addressing under-representation across the protected characteristics at all levels of the organisation and to narrowing its gender, race and disability pay gap. 

Legal rights respected