[Skip to content]

Sign up for our daily newsletter
The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

1 in 10 UK workers now in ‘insecure work’

The number of people working without guaranteed hours or baseline employment rights has increased by 27% over the past five years, according to the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

Uber drivers, bar staff and teaching assistants in 'insecure jobs' ©Shutterstock
Uber drivers, bar staff and teaching assistants in 'insecure jobs' ©Shutterstock

It estimates that there are now over 3 million people in insecure jobs – representing 1 in 10 UK workers – up from the 2.4 million recorded in 2011.

The research suggests that it is mainly traditional jobs, such as teachers, care workers, and waiters that are driving the increase in the number of people working in precarious jobs, rather than newer technology related ones.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “It’s happening across new and old industries, with workers forced into shady contracts whether they’re Uber drivers, bar staff or teaching assistants.

“Insecurity at work is becoming the new normal for too many workers. People need jobs they can live on and build a life around.

“But if you don't know how much work you will have from one day to the next, making ends meet is a nightmare. The rules that protect workers need to be dragged into the 21st Century.”

The TUC study identifies that all people in insecure jobs often find their wages can fluctuate without warning, they miss out on key protections, and can have their hours withdrawn without notice.

It shows that restaurant and pub waiters make up one fifth of the increase of people working in such jobs since 2011, with education and social care workers accounting for a tenth each.

The top ten sectors with the highest percentage of insecure workers are shown below:

Top ten jobs with the highest percentage of insecure workers
Source: TUC

There are now calls for an upcoming government review of the labour market to address these findings, which also show that people in unionised workplaces are twice as likely to be in jobs that are secure.

“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 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."