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.


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