From the TUC

Tackling poverty means tackling casual jobs

18 Feb 2009, by in Economics, Society & Welfare, Working Life

New JRF research has found that jobs fail to solve child poverty. Helen Barnard, policy and research manager at the foundation, concludes that:

The sharp rise in the number of working families in poverty is a reminder that low-paid and casual labour does not usually help in pulling families out of deprivation

This in a week that a BERR spokesperson defended the immediate dismissal of 850 agency workers at the mini plant by telling us that:

It is important that we provide protections for working people without removing the important flexibility that agency work can offer both employers and workers

No one is arguing for an end to all flexibility. But without a clear Government commitment to removing employer incentives to employ casual rather than permanent staff (which means amending employment status legislation so that those defined as ‘workers’ rather than ’employees’ are no longer excluded from employment protection) we will be stuck with a proliferation of low-wage, low-skill, short-term jobs which do nothing to help families out of poverty. Ensuring that those workers who want flexible contracts can access them, and that employers who genuinely need to employ workers on a short-term basis can do so, does not require the existence of a second class group of ‘workers’ who are excluded from the protections that most of us take for granted.

Today the FT reports that the UK employs more agency workers as a proportion of its workforce than any other developed nation. It is no coincidence that working poverty is so widespread.