Insecure work

Special edition of the TUC’s Jobs and recovery monitor

According to the TUC, The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the reality of insecure work in the UK. Care workers, delivery drivers and shopworkers played a crucial role in keeping society going. Meanwhile, in sectors like hospitality many insecure workers often found themselves without work.

This TUC research shows:

  • there are 3.6 million insecure workers in this country
  • insecure work is pushing risk onto workers: more than half of insecure workers, including three quarters of people on zero-hours contracts had their hours cut due to the pandemic
  • employers are increasingly scheduling and cancelling shifts at short notice with 84 per cent of zero-hours contract workers offered work at less than a day’s notice
  • the main reason workers take on zero-hours work is because it is the only form available.

Why workers are in insecure work

The argument made by those who support allowing employers to use insecure working arrangements is that they can offer two-way flexibility.

The worker gets to fit their work around their other commitments. The employer can have staff in for the hours they need them.

But this overlooks both many workers’ experiences of the jobs market, and the desire among many employers to simply shift the risks of doing business onto their staff.

By far the most important reason that people take zero-hours contract work, for example, is because that is the only work available.

Myth of two-way flexibility

The TUC polling indicated that for large numbers of workers on zero-hours contracts, the concept of two-sided flexibility was a myth.

Four in ten (42 per cent) of ZHC workers said that if offered shifts they either had to accept them (25 per cent) or they would be penalised (17 per cent), such as being denied future work.

Focusing on zero-hours contract workers, 84 per cent had been offered shifts with little notice, while more than two-thirds (69 per cent) had suffered short-notice cancellations.

For the full report see:

PAYadvice.UK 11/7/2021

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