New in-depth analysis of UK job market data reveals women, disabled people, ethnic minorities and young workers have been consistently affected by insecure employment over the last twenty years.
The Work Foundation, a leading think-tank dedicated to improving work in the UK, has launched its UK Insecure Work Index report which examines the prevalence of insecure work in the UK. They consider three elements that can constitute insecurity at work – employment contracts, personal finances and access to workers’ rights.
Findings show that a surprising number of people are affected:
- 20-25% of workers are affected every year on average;
- an estimated 6.2 million workers were affected just last year;
- hospitality, services and agriculture are most at risk, with one in three workers affected, compared to one in five nationally;
- ethnic minorities are more likely to be in severely insecure work than white workers (24% versus 19%);
- career-starters are 2.5 times more likely to be affected compared to those in the middle of their careers.
Women are also more likely to be in severely insecure work compared to men (25% versus 15%). Considering gender and ethnicity together, while the insecurity gap is widest between white men and ethnic minority men, we can see that ethnic minority women (26%) are most likely to be in severely insecure work among all worker groups. This underlines the dual penalty faced by ethnic minority women.
Insecure work is not necessarily inherently good or bad. Some workers on zero-hour contracts may value the flexibility and may feel quite secure. However, some of these forms, particularly when occurring in combination with others, can contribute to higher risk of job loss, lower financial wellbeing and lower access to important employment rights.
Frances O’Grady from the TUC said:
“This is a valuable and timely report, exposing the shocking scale of our crisis of insecure work, and how this scars workers, communities and held-back regions. It shows that one in five workers is trapped in severe insecurity, enduring wildly unpredictable hours, low pay and minimal rights, with Black and minority ethnic workers, disabled people and women on the frontline.
If the government really wants to make Britain the best place in the world to work, it must make good on years of promises and deliver the employment bill workers urgently need.”