Nearly four million UK workers are in insecure employment, according to the TUC.
It says 3,820,000 – or one in nine – UK workers are in insecure forms of employment and may be denied workplace rights, including protection from unfair dismissal, family friendly rights and rights to be represented by a trade union.
The TUC says employers are falsely labelling staff as self-employed, outsourcing work to agencies or using zero hours contracts to drive down costs and dodge their employment and tax responsibilities. It adds that agency and zero-hours staff can he hired and fired at will and have no right to return to their job after having a baby. Moreover, ‘gig economy’ workers who are in bogus ‘self-employment’ are not guaranteed the national minimum wage, paid holidays or sick pay.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Every worker deserves fair pay, decent rights, and a voice at work. But millions are stuck in jobs with bosses who treat them like disposable labour. We need a new deal for working people so that every worker gets respect, and every job is a good job.
“The government must crack down on shady business models that exploit workers. No more zero-hour contracts. No more bogus self-employment. And no more using agency workers to undercut permanent staff.
“Workers deserve so much better.”
The TUC is leading a march through London on Saturday for ‘A New Deal for Working People’.
Meanwhile a new report from the child poverty organisation 4in10 calls on employers to commit to the Living Wage, make advertising flexible working jobs the norm, consider offering all workers entitlement to basic employment rights, guarantee all young parents on zero-hour contracts a guaranteed fixed hour contract after three months and introduce minimum notification periods for shifts.
The report, Young parents in London: Living with precariousness, says young mothers in London are six times as likely to be economically inactive as young women without children and highlights a “chronic shortage of affordable, flexible childcare that meets the needs of working parents, especially those on zero-hour contracts or non-standard hours”.
It says London has the lowest maternal employment rate in England and the lowest number of quality, flexible jobs. In addition it says over half of those employed in insecure work have had their hours cancelled with less than 24 hours notice and 48% of people in insecure employment say their income changes significantly from month to month, with 25% of people with insecure incomes having used some form of credit to pay for essentials – double that of people with a secure income. It says working age adults with children are consistently more likely to live in poverty than those without children.
The report says child poverty in London is expected to grow by an additional 1.5 million children by 2021/22, with in-work poverty rising sharply and adds that this situation has been exacerbated by children’s centre closures and benefit cuts.
Other recommendations for employers include offering forms of financial assistance to enable people take up jobs, such as an interest-free childcare loan to cover upfront childcare costs, or interest-free season ticket loans to staff employed on contracts of one year or more.
Recommendations for Government range from housing issues to benefits and include getting work coaches in Job Centres Pluses (JCP) and outreach workers in the JCP ‘Support for Schools’ programme to address the specific needs of young parents seeking to enter the workplace and restore Work Allowance levels for Universal Credit.
For Local authorities recommendations include encouraging greater participation in flexible childminder pools to increase the availability of flexible childcare to meet the needs of young parents working non-standard, flexible shift patterns and increasing social housing.