The number of workers trapped in insecure jobs has rocketed by a shocking 660,000 (27%) over the past five years, highlighting a growing trend in zero-hours contracts and other forms of employment that offer little or no guarantee of hours or basic working rights.
A new study commissioned by the Trade Union Congress (TUC), from the Learning and Work Institute, shows that many more people are finding themselves driven from traditional industries into precarious jobs.
The TUC estimates that 10% of the UK workforce now work in insecure jobs, or more than 3million people up and down the country – up from 2.4 million in 2011.
The number of waiters and care workers alone in insecure work, including zero-hours contracts and temporary agency work, has more than doubled since 2011.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Homecare workers are under severe pressure to provide top-notch – and often intimate – care, while building vital personal relationships with the people they care for.
“But with many on zero-hours contracts, it makes it a lot likelier they won’t be regularly caring for the same individuals. It also means care workers are understandably reluctant to challenge their employers when things aren’t as they should be, for fear of losing work.
“Unfortunately that’s why the non-payment of travel time, minimum wage violations and visits too short to dispense proper care are all too frequent.”
According to the TUC, restaurant and pub waiters make up one fifth of the increase, rising by 146,000 (+128%) over the past five years. 1 in 4 (259,000) are now stuck in insecure work.
Education workers account for over one tenth of the increase, rising by 82,000, affecting 1 in 10 workers in the sector. While social care accounts for a tenth of the increase, rising by 66,000 (+133%) since 2011 – 1 in 10 are now in insecure jobs.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Insecurity at work is becoming the new normal for too many workers. It’s happening across new and old industries, with workers forced onto shady contracts whether they’re Uber drivers, bar staff or teaching assistants.
“People need jobs they can live on and build a life around. But if you don’t how much work you will have from one day to the next, making ends meet is a nightmare.
“How is a working parent supposed to plan childcare when they don’t know the hours they’ll be working?
“And how can it be right that in 2017 workers are at the mercy of bad bosses who can just take away all their hours or throw them off the job with no notice?
“The rules that protect workers need to be dragged into the 21st Century. The government’s Taylor review is a prime opportunity to sort this.
“But we also need to get more people into unions. Workers in unionised workplaces are twice as likely to be on secure contract. So I say to working people: if you’re not in a union, get some mates together and all sign up if you want a better deal at work.”