Insecure work impacts on ‘all aspects of life’

13 Jan 2024

The Work Foundation at Lancaster University has found one in five of those in employment in England are in unstable jobs.

They called on the Government to introduce an Employment Bill in the next parliament that puts ‘job quality and security at the heart of labour market regulation’.

The figures show 16.1 per cent of workers in High Peak were in severely insecure jobs - a lower rate than the average of 204 per cent in the East Midlands Combined County Authority area. The East Midlands Combined County Authority is due to come into existence next year following Royal Assent of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

‘Insecure work’ is defined by the think tank as employment that is involuntarily temporary or part-time, or when multiple forms of insecurity come together, such as casual or zero-hours contracts, or low or unpredictable pay. The analysis based on the Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey 2021-22.

Rebecca Florisson, principal analyst at the Work Foundation, said “Being trapped in insecure work isn’t just about poor pay.

“Research shows those in insecure work also experience worse health, living standards and future job prospects so it is an issue that affects all aspects of life.”

She added: “Communities across the country are already struggling with the lack of secure, good quality jobs in their areas which means that the Government’s focus on getting people into ‘any’ job is both unhelpful and harmful.”

The analysis suggests just 51.3 per cent of High Peak workers were in secure employment and a further 37.2 per cent had a moderately or low insecure job. The think tank also found variation in the levels of severely insecure work amongst different worker groups. In England, a higher proportion of female workers (25.7 per cent) were in unstable employment than male workers (14.5 per cent).

Those from ethnic minorities also suffered greater inequality, with 24.2 per cent on average in  the country having jobs considered severely insecure, while 19 per cent of white workers did.

Ben Harrison, director of the Work Foundation, said:

“We know that those who face wider structural disadvantage in the labour market are more likely to find themselves in these kinds of jobs.

“Women, those with disabilities and those from ethnic minority backgrounds are often particularly at risk, leaving these worker groups even more vulnerable to the cost-of-living crisis.”

He added: “The reality is, people in severely insecure work are paying the price of Government’s failure to strengthen employment rights and protections during this Parliament, and this failure is also holding back wider levelling-up ambitions.”

A Government spokesperson said: “Zero hours contracts are an important part of the UK’s flexible labour market helping people balance work around other commitments, and the government has consistently acted to ensure employees are protected in these roles. Numbers in temporary work due to an inability to find permanent roles are down almost 200,000 since 2010.”


Advertiser Reporter, Buxton Advertiser, 30 November 2023