Concern for insecure workers as economic outlook worsens

A new TUC report expresses concerns for the estimated one in nine workers in insecure work as the economic outlook worsens.

carer helping older woman getting dressed

 

Around one in nine people in the UK’s workforce is in insecure work, according to TUC analysis, which warns that, without action, those in insecure work may bear the brunt of worsening pay and job losses if the UK falls into recession.

The analysis of Labour Force Survey data is part of a new report on insecure work which includes zero-hours contracts, agency, casual and seasonal workers not on fixed-term contracts and low-paid self employed people.

The TUC calculates that 12.1 per cent of male workers and 10.9 per cent of female workers are in insecure work. However, this is because men are more likely to be self employed. When self employment is excluded, women are more likely to be in insecure arrangements. Some 7.5 per cent of female employees are in insecure work, as opposed to 5.9 per cent of male employees. One in 9 BME women are insecure employees compared to one in 19 white men. Moreover, 4.7 per cent of BME women are on zero hours contracts, compared to 2.4 per cent of white men.

The report says that blue collar jobs are most heavily affected by insecure work. Nearly one in four (23.1 per cent) of those in elementary occupations including security guards, taxi drivers and shop assistants are in insecure work. The same goes for more than one in five (21.1 per cent) of those who are process, plant and machine operatives. Very large numbers of those in the skilled trades and caring, leisure and other service roles are also in precarious employment. This compares to just one in 20 (5 per cent) of those in professional occupations and a similar proportion (5 per cent) of those who undertake administrative and secretarial work.

The TUC says the publication of the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices five years ago could have provided the basis for useful reforms to improve the lives for those in insecure work. But its recommendations, due to be implemented in the shelved Employment Bill, have not become law.

The report calls on the Government to strengthen collective bargaining and access to union support, to establish a new fair pay agreements, where unions and employers negotiate across sectors to set minimum standards, starting with hospitality and social care. It also wants to see a significantly strengthened set of employment protections which includes a ban on zero hours contracts through a right to a normal-hours contract and robust rules governing adequate notice of shifts and compensation for cancelled shifts and an entitlement for all workers, including agency workers, zero-hours contract workers and casual workers, to the same basic day one rights currently enjoyed by employees. Other recommendations include a ban on umbrella companies, penalties for employers who mislead staff about their employment status, stronger flexible working rights and the introduction of mandatory requirements to report on the pay gaps for Black, disabled and LGBT+ workers.

The report further calls for the enforcement system to be given further long-term resources, an end to the relationship with immigration enforcement which scares workers from reporting exploitation and the use of more innovative methods of enforcement. 



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