McDonalds worker. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Insecure work is like standing for election every week. We need a new deal for working people
MPs aren’t the only ones feeling insecure in their jobs right now. If nothing changes, by the 2022 election hundreds of thousands more Brits could end up stuck in insecure work, being treated like disposable labour.
Zero hours and insecure work growing fast
We’ve done the calculations and the number of people trapped in insecure work is likely to rise by 290,000 over the course of the next parliament. This will take the total of those on contracts such as zero-hours, temp or agency work, and low-paid self-employment to 3.5 million people.
The numbers are getting so big now that it’s hard to take in, but the increase is enormous. It’s same as thirteen extra Sports Directs, or the entire working population of Sheffield.
This hurts everyone. Insecure work costs the Treasury £4 billion a year in lost income tax and national insurance contributions, along with the extra benefits and tax credits that taxpayers end up subsidising bad employers with.
And for the more than 3 million people affected already it spells real personal difficulties.
Paying rent and bills can be a nightmare when you don’t know how much you’ve got coming in each month. And planning childcare is impossible when you’re constantly at the beck and call of employers. Workers on insecure zero-hours contracts also typically get paid a third less per hour than average.
It’s great to see McDonalds’ offering more workers the choice of a fixed hours contract today, following good campaign work by unions like BFAWU and GMB, but the tide is still flowing fast in the wrong direction.
This election is a chance for a new deal
Unions can’t do this alone and we need to see the next government, whoever forms it, to tackle this problem head on.
Every party manifesto in this election must have real commitments to crack down on zero-hours contracts and bogus self-employment.
We want to see:
- A ban on zero-hours contracts: people working regular hours should have a right to a guaranteed-hours contract.
- People on variable-hours contracts to get overtime pay for hours outside of their contracts.
- All workers to have a right to a written statement of terms, conditions and working hours, from day one.
- Everyone at work to get the same rights as an employee, unless the employer can show that they are genuinely self-employed.
- Agency workers entitled to the going rate for the job, on an equal basis with directly-employed workers.
For too many people in Britain, work feels like standing for election ever week. Our MP candidates should use this chance to put themselves in the shoes of more than 3 million voters, and plan how they’re going to help build a new deal for working people after the election.