07 February 2017
The number of people in roles that provide no guaranteed hours of fundamental working rights has jumped by 27% in the last five years.
Research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) showed there are 660,000 more workers in precarious roles since 2011. The organisation estimates the total number of workers in insecure positions has now reached three million – accounting for around 10% of the entire UK workforce.
The number of waiters and care workers has more than doubled in the last five years. A quarter of waiters are now in insecure work following a 128% rise in the number of people forced into such contracts within the sector.
A tenth of all care workers and education workers are now in insecure work. Care workers have seen a 133% increase in precarious contracts and education workers have experienced a 42% rise, the research showed.
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.”
Indeed, Uber drivers told the Select Committee for Business’s Future World of Work inquiry yesterday that they earn less than the National Living Wage of £7.20 per hour. Syed Khalil, who drives for Uber in London, said it was common practice for drivers to work 100 hours a week. Despite such long working hours, he still needs to claim housing benefit to cover his living costs.
“The rules that protect workers need to be dragged into the 21st Century,” Francis O’Grady said, highlighting that people in unionised workplaces are twice as likely to be in secure work.
Indeed, the Institute of Employment Rights has put forth a comprehensive set of policy recommendations to modernise employment law with a particular emphasis on promoting unionisation.
In our Manifesto for Labour Law, now adopted by the Labour Party, we set out 25 policy proposals that shift the focus of employment law from individual statutory rights (such as the right to minimum wage); to collectively agreed rights.
By encouraging employer to negotiate with trade unions at both sectoral and enterprise levels, we can improve wages and conditions, reversing the trend towards insecure work and narrowing the UK’s wage inequality gap (currently the highest in Europe!).
We also propose strengthening individual statutory rights for workers in line with international standards, and establishing a universal employment status. This would mean that all people in employment are eligible for the same workers’ rights from Day One, thus removing the incentive for employers to contract agency workers instead of hiring their own employees in order to evade employment rights these workers are not entitled to: such as unfair dismissal.