Combined Authority takes steps to develop Good Work Standard for West Yorkshire

Key West Yorkshire Combined Authority panel exploring options to promote well-paid, secure work across the region.

A ‘good work standard’ for the region is being developed by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority as it looks to the economic recovery beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic.  

A proposed good work standard or charter would recognise employers that commit to positive employment practices, such as paying a living wage, offering secure work, and development and progression.   

It offers the potential to address disadvantage and inequality across the region, which is one of the key ambitions for the Combined Authority’s economic recovery plans from COVID-19.  

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “Good work is something that many of us take for granted. Standards around pay and working conditions should be a given. But unfortunately, too many of our residents are in low paid, insecure jobs that don’t offer a route to a better standard of living. 

“A good work standard for West Yorkshire is a key part of our efforts to build an inclusive economy that works for everyone as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Rashik Parmar MBE, IBM Fellow and Vice President Technology - Europe, Chair of the Employment and Skills Panel, said: “It’s clear that the post-COVID economy will look markedly different to that which came before. Promoting good work and recognising employers that do the right thing by their staff is a cornerstone of our efforts to build a strong recovery with resilient, innovative and productive businesses that can reach their full potential.”  

With 1.1 million people, West Yorkshire’s labour market is largest in the Northern Powerhouse, but over 270,000 people across the region – or 29% of the working age population – are not in ‘good work’, in terms of high quality, secure, well-paid employment. Around 380,000 people (26%) have low or no qualifications.  

Certain groups of people, such as Black, Asian and minority ethnic, people with disabilities and lone parents, are disadvantaged in the labour market, suffering from higher-than-average levels of unemployment, greater pay gaps and fewer opportunities for employment and progression.  

These factors contribute to productivity in West Yorkshire being lower than the UK average - closing this gap could add £8.5 billion to the value of the region’s economy and lead to greatly improved living standards for many. 

As such, it is a key commitment of the West Yorkshire Economic Recovery Plan, which seeks to deliver an inclusive economic recovery. 

The Combined Authority’s Employment and Skills Panel is examining options to create a Good Work Standard for West Yorkshire to address disadvantage and inequality in the labour market, with findings to be presented in the New Year.  

Options include adopting existing standards ‘as is’, adapting existing models to the specific circumstances of the region, or creating an entirely new, bespoke standard tailored to the needs of West Yorkshire.  

The standard would be relevant to all sectors and irrespective of business or organisation size; complement local and national approaches; and cover a range of employment-related themes, such as fair pay, workforce voice, health and welfare, leadership, and equality, inclusion and diversity.