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Fair Work in the Foundational Economy

March 4th 2020

Low wages and poor working conditions are a challenge for many workers. We want to ensure that focus is kept on protecting and promoting fair work in any action to grow the Welsh economy.

In partnership with the Wales TUC, this project will look at challenges within specific sectors which put fair work out of reach for many of those in employment. We want to find solutions to allow these jobs to pay a decent wage and provide fair working conditions.


What is fair work?

Everyone should have access to fair work. Jobs should pay a fair wage and give opportunities for career progression. Jobs should provide stable working hours and access to both maternity and sick pay. Workers should also have a voice through collective representation in the form of trade unions.

What is the foundational economy?

Increasing focus is being placed on the idea of the foundational economy, sometimes referred to as the ‘everyday economy’. This means the activities which provide the essential goods and services needed for everyday life. This includes areas as varied as care services, the pipes and cables connecting households, furniture, and tourism. Welsh Government has begun considering action to grow these sectors.

How will the project approach fair work and the foundational economy?

In comparison to other areas of the economy, some foundational sectors provide lower wages and poorer working conditions. Our project will ensure that the quality of jobs on offer is a core part of any action to support the foundational economy.

We will listen to employers, employees and their representative bodies, and experts. We will find practical actions to increase fair work practices in four foundational sectors:

  • Retail
  • Social Care
  • Hospitality
  • Arts and entertainment

These sectors have been chosen as they often provide jobs with low pay, unstable hours, and low-quality working conditions.

What benefits will the project bring?

Delivered in partnership with the Wales TUC, it will complement their efforts to make Wales a fair work nation. This prioritises areas including tackling low pay, addressing unsafe working practices and increasing collective bargaining.

The project will benefit workers by giving practical actions to embed fair work in the foundational economy. It will have relevance to groups with protected characteristics including gender, ethnicity, disability, and age.

The project will benefit employers by encouraging fair working practices designed to tackle recruitment and retention, morale, and productivity.

The findings will be published in March 2021.


If you would like to discuss this project in more detail, please contact Fair Work Project Officer Huw Anslow at [email protected]


This project has been funded through the Welsh Government’s Foundational Economy Challenge Fund


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