Ministers facing calls for better working environment

Firms including Sports Direct have been under fire over issues such as zero hour contracts and general working conditions
Firms including Sports Direct have been under fire over issues such as zero hour contracts and general working conditions

Repeated scandals over poor working conditions and job insecurity reveal more must be done to create a good work economy, the head of a Government review into working practices has said.

Matthew Taylor, a former adviser to Tony Blair and CEO of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), urged ministers to focus on improving the quality of jobs to tackle a string of issues ranging from in-work poverty to productivity and the impact of automation in a speech to the RSA.

Working practices have been in the spotlight following the rise of zero-hours contracts and the so-called gig economy, while MPs have criticised firms such as Sports Direct over working conditions in its warehouses.

New research published by the RSA ahead of the speech revealed only one in 10 people (9%) think jobs are fair and decent, while 73% think the UK should do more to improve the quality of jobs.

“We’ve got a great record, or pretty good record in this country, around creating jobs but I don’t there is ultimately a tension between quantity of work and quality of work,” he said.

“In fact, I think if we had better work our economy would be stronger and, for example, if we had better work fewer people would drop out of work every year into disability.

“We need to overcome that kind of implicit sense that we have in too many parts of British business that the way you get the best out of people is to put them under more pressure and to control them more.”