Tackling poverty means tackling casual jobs
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
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.