Millions of workers trapped in insecure jobs, as MPs and unions demand shake-up

Millions of workers are stuck in insecure jobs paying less than the Real Living Wage, a report reveals today.

Researchers found 3.7 million grafters – 12% of all employees – are in low-paid work and suffer “some form of work insecurity” such as being underemployed, given “volatile” pay or hours, trapped in non-permanent work against their choice, or are in low-paid self-employment.

The Living Wage Foundation analysed data in the Labour Force Survey and Family Resource Survey and commissioned a Survation poll of 2,021 employees.

The study found that of staff paid below the Real Living Wage, 12% received less than 24 hours’ notice for their working hours, shifts or work schedules, 49% got less than a week and 68% were given less than four weeks.

Millions of workers are affected

Some 42% experienced unexpected cancellations of shifts.

Of those, 28% received no payment and 90% had shifts cancelled without full pay.

Living Wage Foundation director Graham Griffiths said: “Insecure work has been a consistent feature of the labour market over the past 20 years.

“The result is millions of people unable to get the hours and the pay they need to meet their everyday needs, with many families throughout the UK struggling to keep their heads above water.

The Living Wage Foundation says too many employees struggled to budget because of “volatile” hours

“Over the past year this problem has been exacerbated, with many low-paid workers in insecure jobs also more likely to lose work.

“There is a real danger that as we look to recover from the huge damage of the pandemic, we fail to recognise the vital need for an economy built on jobs with decent pay and secure hours.

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“This is what we need for a modern, dynamic economy that delivers stability to workers, families and businesses.”

Minimum hourly rates paid by Living Wage Foundation accredited firms are £9.50 outside London and £10.85 in the capital.

Campaigners want more bosses to pay the Real Living Wage

It is paid regardless of employees’ ages.

In contrast, the Government’s “national living wage” – the rebranded minimum wage – is £8.91 an hour and only paid to workers aged 23 and over.

Hourly minimum pay for under-18s is £4.62; the rate for workers aged 18 to 20 is £6.56; and the minimum for those aged 21 and 22 is £8.36.

Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Everyone deserves a decent, secure job they can build a life on.

Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady

“But too many in the UK are stuck in insecure work and don’t know how much they’ll be earning from week to week, or whether they’ll even earn enough to put food on the table.

“Enough is enough. It’s time for the Government to put an end to the scourge of insecure work – starting with bringing forward an Employment Bill to improve rights at work and ban hated zero-hours contracts.”

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, the Shadow Future of Work Secretary of State, said: “The scourge of insecure work and poverty wages that is blighting millions of lives is proof that our economic model is broken.

“A job should provide security, dignity and a proper wage that you can support your family on.”

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Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner

A Business Department spokeswoman said: “The Government is determined to make work pay, having recently raised the national living wage, with a commitment to increase it further to reach two thirds of average earnings by 2024.

“We are committed to going even further to support workers, pushing ahead with plans to include a new right for all workers to request a more predictable contract from their employers, giving individuals the security they need.”



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