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New report says changes are needed to support workers in Wales

18 January 2024

Showing illustrations of people in different professions. For example, office worker, Firefighter, gardener, nurse.

A report led by Professor Jean Jenkins highlights the need for changes in how Welsh Government approaches work and the enforcement of labour rights in Wales.

The Wales TUC Cymru published the independent report, Future of Devolution and Work in Wales Commission on Wednesday 10 January 2024.

Written by Professor Jean Jenkins, the report sets out the case for Welsh Government to better use the levers it has to support workers in Wales - through investment in enforcing rights at work, new partnerships with UK labour market enforcement bodies, greater transparency, and training.

Professor Jenkins details the challenging realities of work in Wales in an economy characterised by low unemployment but also high rates of economic inactivity, job insecurity and wages that have been stagnant for 15 years.

She also highlights the real weaknesses of the current enforcement of legal rights at work in Wales. Just £10.45 is spent on enforcement for each worker and labour market inspectorate bodies’ capacity ranks 27th out of 33 OECD countries.

The report concludes that a focus on devolving employment rights alone is unlikely to result in significant improvements for workers unless it followed extremely careful planning and was accompanied by increased funding. Professor Jenkins recommends that unions in Wales establish a working group to look at the practicalities of devolving employment rights in detail.

“My report is an honest assessment of where workers stand in Wales in 2024. For far too many their experience is characterised by insecurity, stagnant wages, and a labour rights system that provides very little real protection."
Professor Jean Jenkins Head of Management, Employment and Organisation Section
Professor of Employment Relations

Professor Jenkins adds: "the reality is that many of the laws that are meant to support workers exist only on paper. Very few other countries have such weak approaches to enforcing rights and we need to prioritise change if the vision for a Fair Work Wales is going to become a reality.

I’ve outlined an ambitious set of recommendations that focus on what can be done here and now in Wales to improve things while also setting a route map for the practical work that would need to be done ahead of any further consideration of devolving employment rights to Wales.

My sincere hope is that our politicians, unions and employers all recognise the urgent necessity of reform.”

Read the report: Future of Devolution and Work in Wales

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