UK jobs are no less secure than they were 20 years ago

UK jobs are just as secure as they were two decades ago despite concerns that there has been an increase in the amount of people involved in the gig economy and zero-hours contracts.

A report from the CIPD called ‘Megatrends: Is work really becoming more insecure?’ found that 20 per cent are in non-permanent employment in the UK, which includes self-employed, temporary workers and zero-hour contract workers. This is the same level as it was in 1998.

It also found that those who work in such areas as being self-employed, part of the gig economy or on a zero-hours contract do so out of choice.

The amount of people on zero-hours contracts is at 2.4 per cent, this was just under 3 per cent in 2016 when it peaked.

The CIPD found that the amount of ‘involuntary’ temporary workers who would rather be in permanent jobs is cyclical. It peaks and troughs with the economic climate.  In 1994, it was recorded at 41 per cent, before falling to 26 per cent in 2007.

It rose again during the economic downturn in 2013 to 40 per cent, but then fell to 27 per cent in 2018.

Another detail to come out of the report was the average job tenure in the UK was 8.6 years in 2017, in comparison to 8 years in 1997. The share of employees in long-tenure jobs of ten years or more has also remained stable, standing at 32 per cent in 2017, compared with 30 per cent in 1997.

UK employees were less worried about finding a job as they were in the 2000s. As there was a drop from 28 per cent in 2000 to 17 per cent in 2017 of those who were very worried they would not get a good job.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said:

This report counters some of the common rhetoric that employment in the UK is becoming more insecure. On a wide range of indicators, the evidence suggests that, overall, employment security has remained broadly stable over the last two decades with very little evidence of any structural big increase in casual and insecure work. Increases in employment insecurity where they have occurred seem to be cyclical, linked to economic downturns, rather than a long-term trend.

This suggests that more attention should be paid by policy makers and employers on improving job quality and workplace productivity across the economy to tackle problems such  as low pay and discrimination, not simply on improving the rights and security of atypical workers, important though this is.






Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.