We all need good work, a level of control over our work and enough income to live healthily. That means safe working conditions, fair contractual conditions, and stable employment that pays at least the real Living Wage. It’s important, too, that people who are unable to work are not left behind financially.

Everyone needs a certain level of income to afford the basics for a healthy life. The growing use of food banks has highlighted the issue of food insecurity, and lower-income families find it harder to put healthy food on the table.

It’s not surprising that being out of work, in low-paid employment or under-employed, has a significant and long-term negative impact on health and wellbeing. The welfare system also has a big impact, and benefit sanctions can be particularly harmful to people’s health.

Healthy jobs are not just about money, either. They can be about hours: part-time work and zero-hours contracts can be a problem, but so can overwork and work-life balance. And healthy jobs can also be about working culture: feeling valued, being heard and having a workplace free from harassment and discrimination.

Stating the facts

Our work on jobs, income and health

We fund projects that support people to access jobs in their communities. We also prioritise jobs and income in our policy work, working with the Living Wage Foundation and other partners. We are particularly interested in the role that anchor institutions, such as hospitals and universities, can play in providing training and employment in neighbourhoods experiencing disadvantage.

We are calling for the government to invest in local employment support for communities least likely to have access to good work. Support to access and remain in good work requires tailored activities from sources people trust. When this is delivered by and for communities with specific expertise in the needs of the local community, the support is more likely to include the right knowledge and skills.

We support the Living Hours campaign led by Living Wage Foundation. This calls for:

  • at least four weeks’ notice of shifts, with guaranteed payment if shifts are cancelled within this notice period
  • the right to a contract that reflects accurate hours worked
  • a guaranteed minimum of 16 hours work per week, unless the worker requests otherwise.

Read more in our community manifesto for health justice.

The Living Wage means for me that I get to enjoy a better quality of life not just for me but also for my family. I also feel that my employers really value me and the work that I’m doing

Rehana Begum

Centre Manager, Aspire and Succeed, Local Conversation in Lozells

The research on jobs, income and health

Local Action on Health Inequalities: Promoting Good Quality Jobs to Reduce Health Inequalities: report by the UCL Institute of Health Equity for Public Health England, 2021

Relationship between income and health: Research by the Health Foundation on self-rated health, grouped by household income, 2021

Living in poverty was bad for your health long before COVID-19: Research by the Health Foundation, 2020