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IPPR - New polling: Crisis in working conditions making Brits ill

Work is creating an epidemic in poor mental health according to new polling commissioned by Workwhile, with more than half of Brits – 57 per cent – concerned that their mental health is suffering because of the demands of their jobs

  • Over half of people concerned their mental health is suffering because of work
  • One in five made to work overtime without extra pay
  • Newly launched charity, Workwhile, will work with employers to deliver change 

In particular, the public have significant concerns about the apathy of their employers towards protecting their mental health, with 59 per cent saying that their employer doesn’t discourage unpaid overtime. More than one in five – 21 per cent – said their employer encourages them to work overtime without extra pay.

And despite the cost-of-living crisis, the public place a high value on their work-life balance, which half - 49 per cent - say is more important than how much they earn, compared with only 12 per cent who say how much they earn is more important.

These concerns are exacerbated by the low number of good-quality, local opportunities available: only one in eight (13 per cent) agree that the number of quality jobs in their area is higher now than when they first started their careers.

In order to prevent the number of people who are out of work due to long-term ill health skyrocketing further – with now over 2.5 million, higher than before the start of the pandemic – Workwhile is calling on the government to put good work at the centre of its mission to promote economic growth.

The failure to address the crisis in working conditions will increase health inequalities, exacerbate national skills challenges and put the prime minister’s pledge to grow the economy and create better-paid jobs at serious risk.

Anna Ambrose, Director of Workwhile, said:

“All employers are expected to pay a fair wage, especially during the cost-of-living crisis, but employees also need and value far more than how much they earn.

“That's why Workwhile exists to support employers to provide better-quality employment opportunities - because we believe in the power of good work to transform lives, communities and the economy.

“Good work is everyone’s business and both the government and employers need to do more to reverse the crisis in poor quality work.” 

In order to protect mental health in the workplace, Workwhile is also calling on the government to legislate to ensure that employers have a ‘right to disconnect’, given that the rise in homeworking has made it difficult to regulate working hours.

And the government should explore how it can support small employers to access apprenticeships and skills programmes across their workforces – without which, the UK risks falling behind in the international race to create a high-skilled, high-wage, competitive economy.

Jack Shaw and Anna Ambrose are available for interview 


Jack Shaw, senior account manager at Workwhile, 


  • Workwhile is a not-for-profit initiative, working with employers to create good work and ensure that everyone can access it. We deliver practical projects, working with employers to drive better access to good work, including creating apprenticeships and improving line management. We're building on the success of the London Progression Collaboration project, which has already created more than 1,500 apprenticeships for low-paid, disdavantaged and marginalised Londoners. Workwhile is incubated and hosted by leading progressive think tank IPPR (the Institute for Public Policy Research). For more information visit:
  • Polling commissioned by Workwhile from Opinium, was conducted between 14 and 16 June 2023 and involved a representative sample of 2,077 adults across the UK. Further details available on request.
  • Previous polling in February highlighted significant concerns about the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage – which is £5.28 per hour – with 78 per cent sharing concern that they could not live on it. For more information, visit:
  • Visit the Office for National Statistics for more information on figures relating to those out of work as a result of ill-health.
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