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UK has seen ‘explosion’ in insecure work, claims TUC

14 Jun 2024 2 minute read
Deliveroo drivers during a demonstration over poor pay and job security. Photo Rebecca Speare-Cole/PA Wire

The UK has seen an “explosion” in insecure, low-paid work in the past 14 years, according to a new report.

The TUC said its study found that the number of people in insecure work has reached a record high of 4.1 million.

The analysis of official statistics shows the number of people in “precarious” employment – such as zero-hours contracts, low-paid self-employment and casual/seasonal work – increased by nearly one million between 2011 and 2023.

Over that period insecure work rose nearly three times faster than secure forms of employment, said the union organisation.

Lower paid sectors

The TUC estimated that one in eight workers in the UK are now employed in precarious employment.

The growth in insecure work since 2011 has been fuelled mainly by lower-paid sectors of the economy, said the report.

The TUC says the huge rise in insecure and low-paid work highlights the need for boosting workers’ rights and making work pay.


TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “We need a government that will make work pay, but over the last 14 years we have seen an explosion in insecure, low-paid work.

“The UK’s long experiment with a low-rights, low-wage economy has been terrible for growth, productivity and living standards.

“Real wages are still worth less than in 2008, and across the country people are trapped in jobs that offer little or no security.”

Ruth Wilkinson, of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), said: “Non-permanent work is increasingly associated with poor and difficult working conditions and exposes workers to health and safety risks.

“This is deplorable and something which needs to be addressed. There is a fundamental duty on businesses to protect the health and safety of all workers, regardless of their contractual status.”

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