Document Abstract

What is driving insecure work? A sector perspective

Investigates trends in insecure employment in the period 2011-16 using data from the Labour Force Survey. Defines insecure employment as the low-paid self-employed and employees in temporary employment. States that the number of workers in insecure employment has risen from 2.4 to 3.1 million in the five years to 2016. Notes that insecure employees are less likely to be in a workplace covered by a trade union and are paid less than those in secure employment. Presents data from across different employment sectors looking at, for each, the absolute number of insecure employees, the split between insecure employees and self-employed, changes in the proportion of insecure employees and use of zero-hour contracts. Looks at the earning levels of insecure employees. Discusses reasons for the rise in the numbers of insecure employees such as: government legislation; the decline in trade unionism; the taxation levels of different forms of employment; public sector monopsony; technological developments; and employer pressures to reduce costs. Looks at some of the sectoral drivers causing the increase in the amount of insecure employment. Considers that the period of rapid expansion of insecure employment coincided with the high availability of workers in the post-recession period.


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Bivand, Paul; Melville, Duncan
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Learning and Work Institute

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