[2019] Motion 39 Mental health in low-paid employment

Composited motion

Received from:

Merged into composite 11

Congress believes that too little attention is paid to the particular pressures faced by low-paid workers and the impact those pressures can have on mental health.

Congress is concerned at the lack of respect shown to workers and notes that dealing with rude or abusive members of the public creates a toxic working environment.

Congress further notes that staffing levels, unreasonable targets, short and unpredictable working hours, inadequate family-friendly rights together with a lack of management support can make work extremely stressful.

Whilst anyone can develop a mental health problem, insecure hours and low pay are risk factors with 63 per cent of low paid workers surveyed by Usdaw reporting that financial worries are having an impact on their mental health.

The relationship between mental health and poverty is complex; nevertheless, there is an established link, with the poorest fifth of the population twice as likely to be at risk of mental health problems.

Congress agrees that the TUC will:

i. campaign for employers to be under a legal duty to assess the impact their policies, practices and procedures (including pay and conditions) have on workers’ mental health and act upon the findings
ii. make the case for employers in public-facing sectors to protect workers and act to ensure workers are treated with respect
iii. support affiliates to tackle disability discrimination by holding employers to account for their failure to make reasonable adjustments, compelling them to address the causes of mental distress in their own policies and practices.

Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers


Add at end:
“iv. organise a one-day conference, and set up a cross-union working group, on mental health as instructed by Congress in proposition 63 in 2018
“v. campaign for workplace and work-related suicide to be categories recognised in legislation and recorded in government statistics.”

Communication Workers Union


Add at end of paragraph 4:
“Low pay – alongside insecure and short-term contracts – is also a feature of work in the entertainment industry, which also presents challenges to mental wellbeing; a survey of the mental and physical health of workers in the industry identified financial pressures as the biggest contributor to mental health problems.”



  • Add new sub-paragraph iv.:
    “iv. continue to campaign for the government to address the funding crisis in mental health services, to achieve real parity of esteem between mental and physical health and ensure all workers suffering from mental health receive the expert support they need.”

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy