In-work poverty and good employment

To support local employers, this page draws together important resources and good employer practice with examples from across the NHS.
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The rising cost of living and its impact on all of our staff has led to organisations reviewing their current employment package along with additional measures that can support the wellbeing of staff. Having a comprehensive employment package will contribute to retaining valuable talent and help make you an attractive employer for new recruits.

What is in-work poverty?

In-work poverty is when a person's income, after housing costs, is less than 60 per cent of the national average, meaning that they may be unable to make ends meet or cover their essential living costs.

In the UK, this already affects one in eight workers, however, it is predicted that this number will increase due to the rising costs of living expected during 2022.

While we know that pay is important, the factors leading to in-work poverty, or the pressure many of our colleagues are facing from rising costs, are linked to household income and overall expenditure.

The CIPD website has more information on what factors contribute to in-work poverty, what in-work poverty really looks like and what it is like to live and work in poverty.


The financial challenges affecting our NHS people - insights and solutions

Watch our webinar recording. With speakers from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, CIPD and good practice examples from NHS organisations.

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To support local employers with the work being taken forward we have created this area on our website to draw together important resources, examples of good employer practice and practical examples of what others across the NHS are doing now.

There has been a significant amount of work undertaken by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), leading charities and experts in the field of financial wellbeing and we provide links to these helpful resources below.

We have highlighted four core areas for employers to consider: 

  • Pay processes and practices: supporting staff through providing a comprehensive benefits package.
  • In-work progression: the offer available to colleagues to access development, training and experience including apprenticeships, to progress and enter higher paid work in the medium-to-longer term.
  • Financial wellbeing and education: empowering staff through the offer provided.
  • Flexible and agile working: approaches that support individuals in a way which helps them with managing household costs.

We also recommend three additional actions for employers to take to support staff:

  • Work in partnership with your local staff representatives and encourage staff who are members of a union or professional body to be aware of the benefits they can access through membership.
  • Evaluate the impact of the interventions taken forward.
  • Develop a comprehensive communication and engagement strategy to underpin the work developed.

The importance of regular communication

Regularly communicating about money issues and signposting to support will help staff to know what exists and encourage access support when they need it. 
Consider how you will communicate what support is available to employees and think about different channels and mechanisms to reach a wide range of staff: 

  • Leaflets, posters or payslip attachments are good ways of reaching staff based in the community or staff who don’t have regular access to a computer.
  • Communicate your financial wellbeing offer alongside other initiatives. You could align it with communications around mental health or employee benefits. 
  • Videos, podcasts or online articles on your intranet can raise awareness of your offer and can be re-used and re-purposed for future communications. 
  • Highlight the organisation’s approach to financial wellbeing regularly, including at staff events, training days and induction.

Line managers will play an important role in spotting the signs of staff being in financial difficulty and signposting them to support. Make sure line managers are aware of what support is available and where they can access support for themselves or to signpost to colleagues in their teams. 

Good practice example

The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust communicate its offer to staff on social media via Twitter and Instagram. They often receive flash offers from local businesses that last 24hrs, so need to communicate these quickly to as many staff as possible. The trust has its own dedicated branding and website for its offer, providing information on staff benefits, discounts and offers, travel and transport and health and wellbeing.

Further useful resources

Find out how to support our NHS people experiencing stress: