Recently, our employment team hosted a roundtable for HR professionals looking at the ever evolving nature of work, with a particular emphasis on ‘Decent Work’ and the opportunities and challenges that brings for businesses

We were delighted to welcome Dr Fiona Christie from Manchester Metropolitan University to speak to our group. As a Senior Research Associate at the Decent Work and Productivity Research Centre in the Business School at MMU, Fiona was able to give us an interesting and discussion provoking overview of the decent work policy landscape.

Talking the group through the main drivers of decent work on an international, national and local basis, the group discussion compared and contrasted working examples of this in practice; the vast majority of which centred around decent work not just being about work but also but also the systems and infrastructure around it, such as benefits, human rights, employment rights and so on.  Essentially when thinking about the concept of decent work, human beings need to be at the forefront of it, as decent work leads to higher productivity and promotes employment by creating a sustainable institutional and economic environment.

The group discussed various challenges in relation to the idea of decent work particularly in the UK including the obvious current political uncertainly, inequalities in the labour market and technology changing the working landscape, which naturally led into a deeper discussion about the gig economy and the changes this has brought for the modern workforce.

There can be little doubt that the gig economy has benefited businesses in that they have been able to keep costs lower by only paying workers when there is a demand for their labour and not having to pay out for sick leave or holidays.  However, Fiona was able to share with us examples of her research into the gig economy specifically here in Manchester, with findings that still gives rise to grave concerns about how changes in the labour market are adversely affecting the working lives of many who are in precarious employment, not just from an employment perspective but also in terms of safety.

There was also a positive discussion around the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter. Recently launched by Andy Burnham; this scheme seeks to improve the quality of work in the region, which should bring positive benefits for both employees and employers.

We’ll be announcing the next in our series of HR lunches soon,  if you would like to be included on our mailing list for these please drop us a line on or you can sign up to get regular updates on a wide range of legal topics.