Study suggests UK employees ‘work longest hours in EU’

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A study carried out by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has suggested that UK employees ‘work the longest hours in the EU’.

According to the study, full-time employees in the UK worked an average of 42 hours per week in 2018. Employees in countries such as Ireland, Italy, France and Belgium worked an average of 39 hours a week, the study revealed.

The TUC also suggested that employees in other EU countries are ‘more productive’ than UK workers, despite EU employees working fewer hours.

Commenting on the study, Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said: ‘Britain’s long hours culture is nothing to be proud of. It’s robbing workers of a decent home life and time with their loved ones. Overwork, stress and exhaustion have become the new normal.

‘Other countries have shown that reducing working hours isn’t only good for workers, it can boost productivity.

‘As new technology changes our economy, the benefits should be shared by working people. That means shorter hours, more time with family and friends, and decent pay for everyone.’

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TUC states shared parental leave scheme needs ‘overhauling’

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The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has stated that the shared parental leave and pay scheme needs ‘overhauling’, and has urged the government to take action.

The scheme was introduced four years ago, and allows parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between them.

Research published by the University of Birmingham recently revealed that just 9,200 new parents took shared parental leave and pay in 2017/18.

According to the TUC, one of the reasons for the low take-up is that the scheme is ‘low-paid’: in the 2018/19 tax year, parents were entitled to just £145.18 per week. This amount rose to £148.68 per week for 2019/20. The TUC said that this makes the scheme ‘unaffordable for most fathers’.

Additionally, the business group stated that many fathers are on zero-hour contracts, or are agency workers: such workers are not eligible for shared parental leave. It also highlighted the fact that self-employed parents ‘don’t get any shared leave whatsoever’.

The TUC has called for the scheme to be extended to those who are self-employed, those on a zero-hour contract and to agency workers. It also advocates increasing the rate of pay to ‘at least the minimum wage level’.

Commenting on the issue, Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said: ‘Without better rights to well-paid leave, many new parents will continue to miss out on spending time with their children. And mums will continue to take on the lion-share of caring responsibilities.’

2019 Spring Statement ? what to expect

Chancellor Philip Hammond will deliver the 2019 Spring Statement today. We will be keeping you up-to-date on the latest developments.

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The Chancellor will respond to the latest economic and public finance forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), and announce some areas for consultation on the longer-term tax challenges.

Ahead of the Spring Statement, business groups have outlined the actions that they would like Mr Hammond to take. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called for the Chancellor to increase funding for public services by an additional £15 billion, and increase capital spending by £10 billion.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said: ‘Positive action is needed from the government to direct funds to the public services people depend on and rescue them from breaking point. And every part of Britain must get investment in the modern infrastructure needed for growth.’

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has urged the Chancellor to tackle the UK’s ‘late payment crisis’; commit to a one-year ‘safe harbour’ approach to Making Tax Digital (MTD) fines; and introduce additional measures to make the business rates system fairer.

TUC report reveals household debt has ‘hit new peak’

A report published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has revealed that UK household debt has ‘reached new highs’.

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The report revealed that unsecured debt per household rose to £15,385 during the third quarter of 2018 – representing a rise of £886 when compared to a year earlier.

Meanwhile, total unsecured debt rose to £428 billion in the third quarter of last year, according to the report.

The TUC said that government austerity and ‘years of wage stagnation’ are the key factors behind the increase in unsecured household debt.

Commenting on the findings, Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said: ‘Household debt is at crisis level. Years of austerity and wage stagnation has pushed millions of families deep into the red.

‘Our economy is not working for workers. They need stronger rights and bargaining powers. Trade unions should be allowed the freedom to enter every workplace to negotiate higher wages.’

ONS data reveals gender pay gap has fallen to its ‘lowest level yet’

Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the gender pay gap has fallen to its ‘lowest level yet’.

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The statistics showed that, in the year to April 2018, the gender pay gap for full-time employees fell to 8.6%, from its previous figure of 9.1%.

However, experts have warned that the gap is ‘closing too slowly’.

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, said: ‘This slow rate of progress means without significant action, women starting work today and in decades to come will spend their entire working lives earning less than men.’

Meanwhile, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) stated that, at the current rate of progress, it will take around 55 years to achieve pay parity between men and women.

The TUC has urged the government to ‘crank up the pressure’ on UK employers, and called for companies to be required by law to ‘explain how they’ll close’ their pay gaps.

New technology ‘could pave way for better working conditions’, states TUC

New technology ‘could pave way for better working conditions’, states TUC

In a new report, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has stated that new technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, could help to ‘pave the way for better working conditions’ for UK employees.

The TUC surveyed 2,145 individuals, and found that 81% want to reduce their working time in the future. The business group stated that, if firms make the most of new technology, UK employees could work a shorter week whilst earning more.

A further 66% of those polled by the TUC believe that automation will lead to work becoming ‘faster-paced and more intensive’. However, workers are positive in regard to what could be achieved if technology is used in the correct manner: 68% believe that the number of dangerous jobs could be reduced, whilst 66% think that the implementation of new technology could result in work becoming ‘more enjoyable’.

Commenting on the matter, Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said: ‘Workers are having a hard time. They’ve suffered the longest pay squeeze in 200 years.

‘Bosses and shareholders must not be allowed to hoover up all the gains from new tech for themselves. Working people deserve their fair share – and that means using the gains from new tech to raise pay and allow more time with their families.’

IPPR calls for ‘fundamental reform’ of UK economy

IPPR calls for ‘fundamental reform’ of UK economy

Think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has called for a radical overhaul of the UK economy, stating that it ‘does not work well’ for most people.

A poll conducted by Sky Data on behalf of the IPPR revealed that 49% of respondents would describe the way that Britain’s economy operates as ‘unfair to some degree’. Just 22% believe that the way the economy works is fair.

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The poll also revealed that 80% of those surveyed support ‘greater regulation’ of major digital companies; would welcome the introduction of a new corporation tax on multinational companies; and would like to see the National Living Wage (NLW) rise from its current level of £7.83 per hour to £8.75 an hour, to bring the NLW in line with the current Real Living Wage.

An additional 50% of individuals would support asking the Bank of England to ‘control house price inflation’, and advocate raising taxes on income from wealth to match taxes on income from work.

Commenting on the findings, Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said: ‘It’s time for a once-in-a-generation rethink of our approach to the economy. Working people have had enough of stagnating living standards and massive inequality.

‘A better deal for working people is possible, and will allow us to build a stronger, fairer economy.’