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.

Events

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

Commentary

Unequal impact? Coronavirus and the gendered economic impact.

The huge changes sweeping the UK labour market in the wake of the pandemic came under scrutiny at the parliamentary Women and Equalities Select Committee. The committee looked at a range of topics related to the current crisis and the effectiveness of various government support schemes that have been introduced, especially in terms of female workers.

In particular it discussed the design and implementation of the furlough scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). One specific problem that Jill raised during the session was that those who had to look after children in the lockdown did not have the right to take parental leave.

Jill Rubery
Women and Equalities Committee, 14 October 2020


Improving conditions for key workers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare many inequalities across our society, in our city, across the nation and around the world. Key workers have been hailed as the heroes of the COVID-19 crisis, but many of these workers - cleaners, delivery drivers, and providers of other essential services - have long suffered from uncertain working conditions.

COVID-19 has shone a light on the conditions of workers in these areas and now is the time for their voice to be heard, both for their benefit and for the infrastructure of the economy. In this lecture, Professor Miguel Martinez Lucio, Professor of International HRM and Comparative Industrial Relations, discusses the benefits of improving conditions for key workers post-COVID-19.

Miguel Martinez Lucio
University of Manchester COVID Catalysts: Global Inequalities, 30 September 2020

This flash lecture is part of the University of Manchester COVID Catalysts. All the videos are on the COVID microsite and there is an accompanying summary publication.



Policy@Manchester collated a number of the blogs below into a 'Lessons from Lockdown' collection, The Value of Human Labour. Featured blogs include
What COVID-19 tells us about the value of human labour
#Here to deliver: Valuing food delivery workers in the future
Recognising the role of key workers now and in the future employment landscape
Bogus self-employment and COVID-19: an added layer of insecurity
Transport and logistics during the COVID-19 pandemic
Sharing the load: How work sharing can reduce unemployment, improve gender equality, and benefit mental health
Recognising the role of key workers now and in the future employment landscape


Recognising the role of key workers now and in the future employment landscape
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has become more aware and appreciative of the workers now called ‘key workers’. However, organisational change and deregulation over recent years has led to high levels of job degradation in key work sectors. In this blog, Gail Hebson and Miguel Martínez Lucio introduce and present research from a range of colleagues and projects in the Work and Equalities Institute to discuss ways a greater appreciation of these key workers can be converted into jobs that are safe, well remunerated and attractive as careers.

Gail Hebson and Miguel Martinez Lucio
Policy@Manchester, 18 August 2020


Sharing the load: How work sharing can reduce unemployment, improve gender equality, and benefit mental health
The need to build back better has received widespread endorsement, not only because the COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity for change but also because it has revealed the high price paid by those facing inequality in the labour market, including inequality by gender. Here, Professor Jill Rubery, Director of the Work and Equalities Institute, discusses the importance of building gender equality into recovery plans from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jill Rubery
Policy@Manchester, 03 August 2020


Bogus self-employment and COVID-19: an added layer of insecurity
The outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis has raised concerns about its impact on precarious and vulnerable workers when most of them have been at the front line during the crisis and their work has been revealed as essential. Marti Lopez-Andreu, from the Work and Equalities Institute, investigates some of these key workers in areas such as logistics and transport, among others.

Marti Lopez-Andreu
Policy@Manchester, 20 July 2020


#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


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


Recognising the value and significance of cleaning work in a context of crisis
Miguel Martinez Lucio and Jo McBride discuss the question of how we have failed to value the work and importance of those in the area of cleaning and hygiene-related employment more generally. The need now is to consider how such workers are engaged with and supported through a greater framework, with respect and dignity being paramount. This is essential if we are to overcome the challenges of ongoing crises such as that of the current pandemic.

Miguel Martinez Lucio and Jo McBride
Policy@Manchester, 10 June 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