Low-Wage Work in the United Kingdom

Low-Wage Work in the United Kingdom


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The United Kingdom's labor market policies place it in a kind of institutional middle ground between the United States and continental Europe. Low pay grew sharply between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s, in large part due to the decline of unions and collective bargaining and the removal of protections for the low paid. The changes instituted by Tony Blair's New Labour government since 1997, including the introduction of the National Minimum Wage, halted the growth in low pay but have not reversed it. Low-Wage Work in the United Kingdom explains why the current level of low-paying work remains one of the highest in Europe. The authors argue that the failure to deal with low pay reflects a policy approach which stressed reducing poverty, but also centers on the importance of moving people off benefits and into work, even at low wages. The U.K. government has introduced a version of the U.S. welfare to work policies and continues to stress the importance of a highly flexible and competitive labor market. A central policy theme has been that education and training can empower people to both enter work and to move into better paying jobs. The case study research reveals the endemic nature of low paid work and the difficulties workers face in escaping from the bottom end of the jobs ladder. However, compared to the United States, low paid workers in the United Kingdom do benefit from in-work social security benefits, targeted predominately at those with children, and entitlements to non-pay benefits such as annual leave, maternity and sick pay, and crucially, access to state-funded health care. Low-Wage Work in the United Kingdom skillfully illustrates the way that the interactions between government policies, labor market institutions, and the economy have ensured that low pay remains a persistent problem within the United Kingdom. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Case Studies of Job Quality in Advanced Economies

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780871545633
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Publication date: 04/28/2008
Series: Russell Sage Foundation Case Studies of Job Quality in Advanced Economies Series
Pages: 347
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

CAROLINE LLOYD is a senior research fellow at the Economic and Social Research Council Centre on Skills, Knowledge, and Organizational Performance. GEOFF MASON is senior research fellow at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, London. KEN MAYHEW is fellow in economics at Pembroke College, Oxford.

Table of Contents

{FMT}Contents{/FMT} About the Authors Foreword Eric Wanner{/FM} {CHAPS} Introduction: The U.K. Story Robert Solow 1. Low-Paid Work in the United Kingdom: An Overview Geoff Mason, Ken Mayhew, and Matthew Osborne 2. Low Pay, Labor Market Institutions, and Job Quality in the United Kingdom Geoff Mason, Ken Mayhew, Matthew Osborne, and Philip Stevens 3. ¿Just Like the Elves in Harry Potter¿: Room Attendants in United Kingdom Hotels Eli Dutton, Chris Warhurst, Caroline Lloyd, Susan James, Johanna Commander, and Dennis Nickson 4. Business Strategies, Work Organization, and Low Pay in United Kingdom Retailing Geoff Mason and Matthew Osborne 5. Improving the Position of Low-Wage Workers Through New Coordinating Institutions: The Case of Public Hospitals Damian Grimshaw and Marilyn Carroll 6. Supply Chain Pressures and Migrant Workers: Deteriorating Job Quality in the United Kingdom Food-Processing Industry Susan James and Caroline Lloyd 7. ¿It¿s Just the Nature of the Job at the End of the Day¿: Pay and Job Quality in United Kingdom Mass-Market Call Centers Caroline Lloyd, Geoff Mason, Matthew Osborne, and Jonathan Payne 8. Low-Wage Work in the United Kingdom: Employment Practices, Institutional Effects, and Policy Responses Damian Grimshaw, Caroline Lloyd, and Chris Warhurst

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