‘Number of workers in precarious employment doubles in a decade’

Woman working at a supermarket checkout


One in 10 UK workers are now in precarious work – and the number of workers at risk of missing out on key employment protections has nearly doubled in a decade to 1.5 million, according to a new TUC report.

The report – Living on the edge – looks at zero hours workers, the self employed and casual workers. It says they are missing out on protection from unfair dismissal and the right to redundancy pay (even if they have worked for two years or more for an employer). And nearly half a million (485,000) have no legal right to sick pay due to low pay.

The report also says that many are seeing their pay affected. It says zero-hours workers now earn £3.80 less an hour than the average employee – a third less (34%), compared to 26% less in 2006 and that hourly pay for zero-hours workers has increased by just 67p in the last decade. It states that self-employed workers now have earnings 40% lower than those of employees, compared to 28% lower a decade ago.  One in three (34%) self-employed households earn less than £200 a week, says the report. The report says casual workers still get paid nearly 40% less an hour than the average worker, representing no improvement on a decade ago.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Insecure work has exploded in the past decade. In far too many cases, the only people who’ve benefitted are bad bosses. Sports Direct can’t be the employment model for the 2020s.

“Gig economy workers face the double hit of poverty wages and weaker employment rights. Whether they’re waiting tables or driving for Uber, all workers deserve respect, fair pay and basic protections. But the law hasn’t kept pace with how work has changed.  That’s why the Taylor review [Matthew Taylor’s independent review of employment practices] must drag the rules that protect working people into the 21st century.

“Every day, unions expose the worst excesses of the gig economy and win important victories for workers across the country – just look at what we’re doing at Sports Direct and Uber. Any serious attempt to crack down on precarious jobs has to have trade unionism at its heart.”


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