Institute activities and comment during the COVID-19 crisis

Institute members are monitoring and commenting on the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on work and equalities within the UK and around the world.


For COVID-19-related events, please visit our Events page.


#Here to deliver: Valuing food delivery workers in the future
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore a new cadre of valued workers. And it’s not the corporate CEO or senior business leader but the delivery workers that are helping cafes and restaurants stay open (in some form) during lockdown. Cristina Inversi, Aude Cefaliello and Tony Dundon of the Work and Equalities Institute (WEI) report on health and safety risks and legal loopholes of gig-economy work.

Cristina Inversi, Aude Cefaliello and Tony Dundon, Policy@Manchester, 25 June 2020

Valuing workers: how do cities need to change in the post-pandemic economy?
On Coronavirus has shone a spotlight on many of the inequalities that some people face in the workplace. On average, the wealthier you are the less likely you are to come into close contact with others, and people in cities in southern England are more likely to be able to work from home than those in the north – shielding them from the health risks posed by the pandemic. Yet even before the virus hit, the labour market was changing quickly. Automation means fewer workers will need to carry out manual activities and technology theoretically makes it easier for office-based workers to work from home.

Tony Dundon took part in this webinar with Elena Magrini, Senior Analyst for Centre for Cities.

The future after furlough
On Wednesday 10 June Jill Rubery took part in the CIPD Festival of Work, joining a panel discussing 'The future after furlough'.

The downsides of homeworking
The initial response to homeworking in the wake of COVID-19 has been impressive and, for the most part, better than expected. However, the long-term sustainability of such arrangements is high risk and fraught with tension

Lee Stringer, Stephen Mustchin and Tony Dundon look at the long-term sustainability of homeworking.
AMBS blog, 15 June 2020

COVID-19 - Avoiding an employment cliff-edge (podcast)
With more than six million UK workers now having their wages paid by the state and 800,000 employers using the government's job retention scheme, just how viable is the scheme in the long-run? Is it feasible to extend the scheme beyond its current cut-off date of the end of June, and if so how should the government be looking to adapt and extend the scheme further? Likewise, what future shape should other employment protection measures taken in the wake of COVID-19, such as help for the self-employed, now take as we come out of lockdown?

Jill Rubery took part in an Original Thinking webinar debating the viability of the government's job retention scheme in the long-run, and related questions.
AMBS Webinar and podcast, 20 May 2020

Support schemes under microscope
There has been much talk of how generous the UK government’s furloughing and self-employment support schemes are, regarded as amongst the most generous in Europe. But can these claims be justified? On the face of it a comparison to similar schemes brought in by other European countries suggests that the UK government’s funding of 80% of earnings for employees, and 80% of average profits for the self-employed, is indeed towards the top of the range.

Jill Rubery looks at whether UK government support for workers in the wake of the crisis is as generous as it sounds.
AMBS blog, 14 May 2020

Transport and logistics during the COVID-19 pandemic
While the majority of the population is urged to stay at home, the country is relying on the transport and logistics sector to maintain the delivery of goods, and most importantly food and medical supplies, which have seen a substantial increase in demand. People working in the haulage industry are identified as key workers given the importance of maintaining a supply network during the COVID-19 crisis and related lockdown in the UK. There has been, though, relatively little open discussion about how the situation is affecting the industry and its workers.

In this blog, Dr Sheena Johnson and Dr Lynn Holdsworth discuss the changes to the working environment in the sector, and the support necessary for drivers.
Policy@Manchester, 28 April 2020

What COVID-19 tells us about the value of human labour
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, a radical reassessment of what is considered ‘key work’ has taken place. For many key workers, however, this status is not reflected in their salary, employment rights, or social perception.

Abbie Winton and Professor Debra Howcroft discuss the disproportionate risk/reward equation key workers – particularly women – face, how the COVID-19 crisis will impact their future, and what policymakers can do to address inequalities at work.
Policy@Manchester, 7 April 2020

Government measures for self-employed generous by international standards
Many countries have taken exceptional measures to support the self-employed during the coronavirus crisis but it is hard to identify any providing as much support as the UK. The government can rightly claim that the measures they have announced to support the self-employed during the coronavirus crisis are generous by international standards. However, there will still be self-employed people facing major losses in their income who won't be compensated by this new scheme.

Jill Rubery looks at the UK  government's support for self-employed workers.
AMBS blog, 31 March 2020