From the TUC

A quarter of a million more in insecure work by end of next Parliament?

26 Apr 2017, by in Labour market

New analysis by the TUC shows that if current trends continue, 290,000 more people could be trapped in insecure work by 2022. The figures show that by the start of 2022, 3.5 million people could be in insecure work such as zero-hours contracts, temporary or agency work, and low-paid self-employment.

Our report in December 2016 ‘Living on the edge’ showed that 3.2 million are currently in insecure work. These people are missing out on key rights and protections at work. 1.5 million of this group are employed, but risk missing out on family friendly rights including maternity, paternity and adoption leave, the right to an itemised pay slip, and protection from unfair dismissal. This number has grown by 700,000 in the last decade, mostly because of the increase in zero hours contracts.

Today’s analysis projects forward current trends in insecure work to see what could happen over the next parliament, using OBR projections of the number of employees and self-employed people.

Between 2011 and 2016, almost 40 per cent of the growth in employment (excluding the self-employed) has come from workers in insecure jobs – zero hours contracts or insecure temporary work. With the OBR estimating that employee number will grow by 400,000 that would leave an additional 155,000 in insecure jobs.

The OBR also estimate that self-employment will grow by 300,000. With 45 per cent of the self-employed currently low paid[i], this could lead to an additional 135,000 people in low paid self-employment.

Our previous analysis found that workers on insecure zero-hours contracts earn a third less per hour than the average worker. And self- employed people earn an average 60 per cent of the median annual rate of an employee per year.

Size of pay penalty for insecure work

The TUC also found that insecure work costs the Treasury £4 billion a year in lost income tax and national insurance contributions, along with extra benefits and tax credits.

Fiscal impact of increased self-employment and zero hours contract (ZHC) working (£bn/year

Source: TUC/Landsman Economics figures:

This analysis comes as part of a series of TUC election warnings, which show what the British economy will look like in 2022 if current trends continue unchecked.

The TUC is calling for:

  • A ban on zero-hours contracts: people working regular hours should have a right to a guaranteed-hours contract.
  • People on variable-hours contracts to get overtime pay for hours outside of their contracts.
  • All workers to have a right to a written statement of terms, conditions and working hours, from day one.
  • Everyone at work to get the same rights as an employee, unless the employer can show that they are genuinely self-employed.
  • Agency workers should be entitled to the going rate for the job, on an equal basis with directly-employed workers.


[1] Data from the SMF that shows that 45% of the self-employed are in low paid work.


3 Responses to A quarter of a million more in insecure work by end of next Parliament?

  1. Attila
    Apr 30th 2017, 5:13 pm

    I recently sent an email to TUC with some of these recommendations such as written contract with clearly defined weekly hours from day one as well as an introduction of mandatory overtime rate over the guaranteed hours. This alone would stop employers using zero hours and any low hours contract on full time employees.

  2. Why insecurity at work doesn’t need to be the new normal
    May 3rd 2017, 9:41 am

    […] The rise and rise of insecure work in the UK is sometimes treated as a natural consequence of technological and social change. The development of online platforms has made it easier for employers to parcel up work into ever smaller pieces in order to reduce costs (and increased the ease for would- be entrepreneurs of setting up on their own), and we’re told that people value the limited flexibility this brings. With this argument often comes the idea that we should embrace new forms of employment relationship – whether gig working, self-employment or zero hours contracts and agency work– despite the fact that these involve significant transfers of risk from employers to those working for them. […]

  3. Why all the political parties should be talking about pay, jobs and rights?
    May 10th 2017, 2:48 pm

    […] of work has changed, leaving too many people at the beck and call of bad bosses. On current trends, 290,000 more people could be trapped in insecure jobs by 2022, leaving 3.5m people in jobs without decent rights and security, whether that’s zero hours […]