ADD2181 London Healthy Workplace Charter

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Code: 
ADD2181
Date signed: 
19 December 2017
Decision by: 
Amanda Coyle, Assistant Director, Health and Communities

Executive summary

The London Healthy Workplace Charter supports employers to develop and maintain healthier workplaces, which can help to improve productivity and reduce sickness absence. The Charter supports the draft Mayor’s Health Inequalities Strategy and the Mayor’s manifesto commitments, including increasing levels of physical activity and better mental health. The two specific projects outlined in this request focus on encouraging employers in the low paid sectors to participate in the Charter, and undertaking a systematic review of the London Healthy Workplace Charter standards. Both projects will be delivered in 2017/2018.

 

 

Decision

That the Assistant Director of Health, Education and Youth approves £20,000 of expenditure on consultancy services to: 

1.    Conduct a systematic review of the London Healthy Workplace Charter standards; and
2.    Develop and deliver a programme to increase engagement from employers in low paid sectors with the Charter.
 

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1        There is strong evidence that work is good for both physical and mental health and well-being.  However these health benefits are dependent on the quality of the job and the working environment.  Good work is healthy, safe, offers individuals some influence over how their work is done, flexibility over working hours and the pace of work, and provides appropriate rewards and a sense of self-worth.  Conversely, recent research suggests that poor quality work may be worse for health than no work at all.  The workplace is also an ideal environment in which to offer wider health promotion/prevention activities and to encourage employees to take responsibility for their own health and that of their families.

1.2    The Mayor’s London Healthy Workplace Charter (LHWC) launched in 2012. It is a voluntary employer accreditation process that supports and rewards employers for investing in workplace health and wellbeing, providing a series of standards to guide them to create a healthier workplace. 

1.3    The LHWC supports employers to get the best out of their workforce, helping them to improve productivity and reduce sickness absence. Participation enables employers to show commitment to staff, raise staff engagement levels, access local support and advice networks and share good practice with others.

1.4    Since its inception over 650 employees have registered with the LHWC of which 195 have been accredited at commitment, achievement or excellence level, benefiting over 300,000 employees. These employers are from a wide range of sectors, from large NHS organisations to SMEs and small charities and all points in between. 

1.5    Funding for the Charter for 2014-2020 was agreed in MD1495 and MD2115.    

1.6    This request for £20,000 is to cover two projects:

1.6.1    Reviewing and updating the London Healthy Workplace Charter standards.  It has been some time since the LHWC standards were produced and new evidence and guidance on workplace health has since emerged.  It is also important that the Charter standards are as accessible as possible to a very wide range of employers, including SMEs.  This second project will fund a systematic review of the London Healthy Workplace Charter standards against new and emerging evidence and guidance, as well as against the needs and aspirations of a wide range of employers.

1.6.2    Engaging with London’s low paid sectors and increasing their participation in the London Healthy Workplace Charter. Demanding jobs over which employees have little control and for which they do not receive adequate reward (in the form of money, status or self-esteem) present particular health challenges.  Those in ‘low control’ jobs are almost two and a half times more likely to have coronary heart disease than those with high control over their work.  Mental health and musculo-skeletal health are also affected.  All too often these jobs are also low paid, compounding inequalities.  In recognition of these issues and in line with the developing Health Inequalities Strategy, this project will develop and pilot an engagement strategy for the LHWC with employers in London’s low paid sectors.

 

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    A report recommending refreshed Charter standards that reflect new and emerging evidence and guidance, and are user friendly to a wide range of employers including SMEs.  Adoption of these standards will help to increase the Charter’s reach.

2.2    An intensive period of engagement with low paid sector employers which will lead to new sign ups to the Charter 

2.3    A report detailing the learning from the period of engagement with the low paid sector and a proposed ongoing engagement strategy for 2018/19. 
 

Equality comments

3.1    By definition, the LHWC is targeted at people in work.  However, by promoting flexible, secure working conditions and good quality jobs, the Charter framework contributes to supporting more people to stay in, or return to, work (including carers and people with long-term health conditions).  

3.2    The focus on the low paid sector will help to improve the health of employees who are more likely to experience poorer mental and physical health, including people with protected characteristics.
 

Other considerations

4.1    Key risks and issues 

•    It will be challenging to balance the need to develop revised standards that are sufficiently rigorous and evidence based with the need to develop a programme that is sufficiently accessible and user friendly to a wide range of employers.

4.2    Links to Mayoral priorities and strategies: Targeting the Charter at the low paid sector is a key commitment in the Healthy Places chapter in the Mayor’s Health Inequalities Strategy (HIS). It further supports the HIS key aims in a range of ways:

-    ‘Healthy Habits’ - The Charter enables employers to promote healthy lifestyles to their workforce including healthy eating, increased physical activity, smoking cessation and a reduction in alcohol and substance misuse. Evidence shows that the workplace is a highly effective setting in which to promote healthy lifestyles.
-    ‘Healthy Children’ - Good work is the best route out of poverty.  Increasing the employment rate amongst disadvantaged groups and promoting fair pay will help to raise families out of poverty, thus improving the health of children as well as their parents. The LHWC promotes a range of initiatives to make the workplace more accessible to a wider range of people including flexible working arrangements, supportive line management, fair pay and strong equalities policies. 
-    ’Healthy Minds’ - Good work is positively associated with better mental health.  The Charter includes a specific standard on mental health which enables employers to tackle mental health-related stigma, develop policies to recruit and retain employees with a diagnosed mental health condition and create a supportive, healthy environment where all employees can flourish.

It also links to other Mayoral priorities and strategies including the Economic Development Strategy, the economic fairness programme (specifically the proposed Good Work Standard), the London Living Wage, apprenticeships and Thrive LDN.  

4.3    Impact assessments and consultations: both projects will include an element of consultation with key stakeholders including employers from a range of sectors as well as boroughs workplace health leads and our network of independent LHWC verifiers.  The final reports on both projects will include feedback from these consultations and will inform the work of the Charter in 2018/19 and beyond.
 

Financial comments

5.1    Approval is being sought for expenditure up to £20,000 for consultancy services which will be funded from the 2017-18 C&I Minor Programmes Budget.

 

Planned delivery approach and next steps

The GLA will procure consultancy services (likely to be at least two separate commissions) to 

7.1    Conduct a systematic review of the London Healthy Workplace Charter standards
7.2    Undertake a period of intensive engagement with a group of employers from London’s low paid sectors
7.3    Produce a report on each project.
 

Activity

Timeline

Procurement of contract [for externally delivered projects]

January 2018

Announcement [if applicable]

N/A

Delivery Start Date [for project proposals]

1 February 2018

Final evaluation start and finish (self)

April 2018

Delivery End Date – submission of reports for both projects

31 March 2018

Project Closure:

N/A