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March 8, 2021

The View from IFOW | IFOW February Newsletter

Welcome to our latest Future of Work round-up, where we reflect on what we’ve been doing, thinking about and planning.

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Spring is in the air with a new lockdown-easing roadmap - and a landmark Supreme Court case ruling that Uber drivers are workers set to benefit from the national minimum wage, rest breaks and holiday pay.

The case is landmark in its own right, but also part of a wider movement to increase access to labour rights and the accountability of platforms. We think it has repercussions beyond the ‘gigs’ of Uber drivers, as algorithmic management has infiltrated frontline work right across the service sectors. Stay tuned for IFOW report on work in the Amazonian Era next month.

With employment crises top of the risks for 2021 and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investment goes mainstream, we’re exploring how good work principles and measurements could be made core to responsible investment, starting with the Financial Services Bill – as we argue here.

We know that technology adoption has accelerated through the pandemic and this is linked to increasing automation, especially in occupations with high physical proximity. This means that a human-centred approach to the development and use of technology is especially important - and why we’ve started work on business guidance with the CIPD and Carnegie UK Trust. Watch this space!


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The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our world of work and amplified the underlying inequalities in our society.

Read our latest interactive report "Good Work Monitor: A Framework for Action"

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Promoting better, fairer work as a central policy objective to boost resilience and level up the country was the focus of our latest joint event with the APPG on the Future of Work, ‘Work and Wellbeing: Levelling up the UK’. Responding to our Good Work Monitor, the event featured Mayors Andy Burnham and Jamie Driscoll, Professors Patricia Findlay and Michael Marmot and the Health Foundation’s CEO Dr Jennifer Dixon.

The panel’s take-home message for the Chancellor: if good work is explicitly prioritised in the budget and then built into the architecture of decision-making, then health, social and economic interests would be aligned. Watch the full debate below.

Events For Your Calendar

Anna Thomas is chairing on the FT Future WorkForce conference on 9 March. Book here or email us for a VIP pass.

Stronger Things 2021: Communities vs Crisis will cover topics including why public service collaboration is the future, and how councils and communities rise up to cope with crises. Michael Marmot leads an all-star cast of  “movers and shapers”. 9th, 10th, 11th March. Book online.

Future of Work Geeks' Update

For a full briefing on the best future of work-related reports, articles, videos and podcasts from the last month, subscribe to our Future of Work Geeks' update. Soon these resources will form part of our upcoming Future of Work Library. Each month, we'll include a few key pieces in this newsletter.

What we’ve been reading

Our Chair Sir Chris Pissarides advised McKinsey Global Institute in the development of their latest report ‘The future of work after COVID-19' explores the acceleration of automation, remote working and worker transition through the pandemic – with huge implications for individuals, communities, companies and countries.

The International Labour Organisation report on the role of digital labour platforms in transforming the world of work notes how platforms have become a pervasive feature of contemporary society, mediating work across a range of white collar desk jobs especially for young people. In this context, this paper (Towards a deliberative framework for responsible innovation in artificial intelligence) presents ideas for more deliberative approaches to responsible innovation.

The Institute for Employment Studies released this new report on the impact of the pandemic on the youth labour market, highlighting that employment changes have disproportionately affected young people, with young men, Black and Asian people. As this is likely to further drive the inequalities of work and health identified in our Good Work Monitor, Sir Michael Marmot makes the case that meritocracy cannot be used to justify health inequalities arising from work here.  

And finally, three useful suites of resource have also been published, with this online Workers Centre from Fairwork, this archive by the Syllabus and Centre for Digital Rights, and this public Zotero Library by Seeta Pena Gangadharan, Esra Ozkan, and Sanne Stevens.

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