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Over 3.5m People In Low Paid Insecure Work

There are 3.7 million people (12%) in the UK in low paid and insecure work, and these insecure workers are more likely to have lost work during the pandemic, according to new research conducted by the Living Wage Foundation (LWF).

LWF analysis of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Family Resource Survey (FRS) found:

  • Around 3.7m people are in insecure forms of work and earn less than the real Living Wage of £10.85 per hour in London, and £9.50 outside of London.
  • Low-paid insecure workers are at a greater risk of losing work due to Covid-19. 46% of insecure, low-paid workers were away from work (mainly due to being furloughed) during the height of the pandemic, compared to 17% of non-insecure workers earning above the Living Wage.
The research found that around 3.7 million workers are in low-paid work and experience some form of work insecurity, defined as those who are underemployed, report volatile pay or hours, are in non-permanent work (where this isn’t their choice), or are in low-paid self-employment.

Additional polling was conducted by Survation to consider the impact of unpredictable working hours.  They found that 12% of employees receive less than 24 hours notice of their working hours, and 49% receive less than a weeks’ notice.

  • 40% said short notice periods had negatively impacted their ability to plan their work and personal lives;
  • 35% said that short notice periods for shifts had a negative impact on their household finances;
  • 25% said they had to pay higher travel costs due to short notice for working hours, and 23% had done the same with childcare costs.

Insecure work has been part of the UK’s labour market for years, however the pandemic has exacerbated it’s impact on people affected and their families.  Whilst it can be argued that having some work is better than no work, there are additional consequences which overlooked – such as paying higher travel costs due to short notice of shifts, a double-whammy for low earners who can least afford it.

There is nothing wrong with insecure work per se, but that is on the proviso that it is a choice to work in that way.  Unfortunately, the LWF report shows that many in the UK do not have the luxury of making a conscious choice about their work, and there needs to be greater awareness of this fact.

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