Protecting workers

[Metro Mayor Dan Norris testing out his plastering skills at a local retrofit site managed by construction specialists Hawkland to mark the West of England Good Employment Charter reaching over 100 backers.]

More than 100 firms across B&NES and the wider West of England region, have signed up to Metro Mayor Dan Norris’s West of England Good Employment Charter.

The employers have backed Mayor Norris’s campaign against poverty pay in a bid to protect workers during the cost-of-living crisis by becoming supporters of the Charter which pledges, among other commitments, to pay staff a Real Living Wage and clamp down on the use of zero-hours contracts.

Top West of England firms to sign up include Bath architect firm BBA Architects and banking app Moneyhub. In total, the Charter is supporting over 7,000 West of England workers, and counting.

A further 200 companies are in talks to sign the charter, Mayor Norris added.

Currently, more than 15% of the region’s workforce earn less than a Real Living Wage, which is £10.90 an hour outside of London, with an estimated 11,000 workers on zero-hours contracts.

Speaking ahead a visit to local retrofit specialists Hawkland one of the first businesses to sign up to the Charter, Mr Norris said: “This is a significant milestone. No matter what job you do, everyone deserves to be properly paid for the work you do in decent, safe conditions and with clear opportunities to progress and develop. I want to praise the brilliant employers we have in the West – those like Hawkland, who are ensuring warmer homes across our great region. And where there are employers who want to do the right thing by their workers and join me in the battle against low pay and poor working conditions, I want to work with them to take them on a journey to doing better. As a Jobs First Mayor, I’m delighted to see so many employers starting that journey with my Combined Authority already and would encourage others from across Bath and NE Somerset to get involved and help make our region the best it can be”.

Hawkland directors Chris Hawker, David Copeland and Ben Nother explained to Mayor Norris how their company is investing in their number one asset – their workforce – through enrolling their workers on a mental health and wellbeing course and measures to ensure they have a good work/life balance.

Hawkland director David Copeland added: “As a social enterprise, we have focused on developing a positive and inclusive culture right from the start. Now that we are expanding, it is becoming even more important that we are setting in place the right principles and strategy that will provide the foundations for this next phase of growth”.

The 100-plus Charter backers (and counting) will now be supported to raise standards across a number of areas, including with flexibility at work and recruitment and progression, with a tiered approach to help them progress, Mayor Norris said. Firms receiving funding through the West of England Combined Authority’s investment funds will be required to become Charter supporters, he added.

There are two tiers of membership for the West of England Good Employment Charter

Tier 1: Supporters – working with aspiring organisations to help them take steps to improve their own practices, including through a personalised action plan, workshops and other events, raising employment standards across the whole region, to meet the requirements of accreditation

Tier 2: Membership – requiring employers to demonstrate excellent practice in key characteristics of employment practice including secure work; flexible work; a real living wage; workplace engagement and voice; excellent recruitment practices and progression; excellent people management and a productive and healthy workplace