Precarious Employment Soars to Record Highs: TUC Reports

Precarious Employment Soars to Record Highs: TUC Reports
Photo Credits - Louis Hansel via Unsplash

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has made some astonishing findings concerning the number of individuals in precarious employment. They released a report on this today, and below, we discuss what they found. Join us as we uncover what is meant by precarious work and outline what the TUC has recommended.

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What is Precarious Employment?

Whilst there isn’t a legal definition for ‘precarious employment’, it’s typically characterised by low wages, job insecurity, and minimal legal protections. This includes circumstances where individuals lack clear employment status’, often without formal contracts, and are deprived of basic workers’ rights.

READ: Workers’ Rights in the Gig Economy: Understanding the Legal Framework

Jobs considered precarious can include temporary, casual, and seasonal work. They’re often in industries judged to be financially unstable, and such jobs can lead to workers struggling to exercise their rights. As such, they generally have no control over their working hours or pay, as can be seen with zero-hours contracts.

TUC Reports 4.1 Million UK Workers in Insecure Jobs

Today, the Trades Union Congress published a report revealing that over four million people are in some form of precarious employment. From zero-hours contracts to seasonal and casual work, they estimate that one in eight UK workers are in insecure work. 

To hammer this point home, they stated that precarious employment had skyrocketed almost three times faster than secure alternatives. This was analysed from 2011 to 2023 and, in the time that secure employment rose by 11%, insecure work has done so by 31%.

Precarious Employment Soars Claims TUC. 
According to the Trades Union Congress, insecure work has risen nearly three times faster than secure alternatives. This has resulted in over four million individuals in the UK being in precarious employment.

According to the TUC, lower-paid sectors have driven this sharp rise. For instance, they noted that more than 600,000 people have been pushed into insecure work in occupations such as care and leisure since 2011.

However, when identifying who was truly to blame, Paul Nowak, the General Secretary of the TUC, pointed directly at the Conservatives. He claimed, “We must end the Conservatives’ race to the bottom on employment standards”. He added, “We need a government that will make work pay… Real wages are still worth less than in 2008, and across the country, people are trapped in jobs that offer little or no security”.

“Labour’s New Deal for Working People” is a “Game Changer” – Claims TUC

The Trades Union Congress highlighted the unfortunate effects precarious employment was having on workers. They disclosed that those on zero-hours contracts ordinarily earned 35% less than individuals on median pay. This was also reflected in those undertaking seasonal or casual work, who earned 33% and 37% less, respectively.

Yet, it appears those in senior positions want this to change. According to the Chartered Management Institute, 82% of managers believed fundamental day-one rights were essential. What’s more, 74% were in favour of a ban on zero-hours contracts. The same amount also felt it was necessary to introduce ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting.

READ: Employee Misnamed Repeatedly Awarded Over £9K in Race Harassment Claim

Consequently, the TUC argues that its revelations highlight the critical need to strengthen workers’ rights. It asserts that “Labour’s New Deal for Working People” would be a “game changer” in achieving this goal. They explained this was because should Labour fully deliver on their promises, among other things:

  • Ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting would be implemented
  • Zero-hours contracts would be eradicated to promote more secure work
  • Qualifying periods for rights, such as protection from unfair dismissal, would be dropped

Whether others believe the Labour Party hold the answer to the precarious employment issue remains to be seen. Either way, the TUC has highlighted a growing problem concerning insecure work. Whatever the solution, it appears one must be found.

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