• The number of workers on insecure contracts steadily reduced to 0.96 million people between 2012 and 2019.

  • The composition of insecure employment types has changed with fewer temporary employees unable to find a permanent role and more self-employed people wanting more hours of work.

  • The number of people on zero- hours contracts and self-employed people wanting to work more hours increased between 2018 and 2019.

This chart shows the proportion of all workers who report working in any of the three forms of employment that tend to be associated with insecure work – self-employment, zero-hours contracts and temporary contracts – and who also report that they wish to work more hours or cannot find a permanent role, between 2011 and 2019.  

Job insecurity can act as a stressor that affects health due to the unpredictability and lack of power individuals can have when they are in insecure employment. 

In 2019, of the three forms of employment making up the measure of involuntary insecure work there were: 

  •  0.4 million temporary contract employees who could not find a permanent role 
  • 0.5 million self-employed people who wish to work more hours  
  • 0.1 million permanent employees on a zero-hours contract who wish to work more hours. 

The total number of people with involuntary insecure work fell by 15% between 2014 and 2019. This improvement is driven mainly by a lower number of people in temporary employment who could not find a permanent role. 

There was a rise in the number of people with involuntary insecure forms of employment between 2018 and 2019. This is mostly due to an increase in people on zero-hours contracts who wish to work more hours, which increased by 40,000 in the past year. In 2019, the total number of people on zero-hours contracts was almost 1 million (around 3% of the workforce).

This chart shows that strong labour market performance can help to reduce number of people with involuntary insecure contracts by providing better opportunities for more secure work However, those working with involuntary insecure contracts persists, suggesting the need for a strategy to reduce job insecurity. The rise of people on zero-hours contracts is concerning and should be monitored.

  • The permanent zero-hours contract category includes everyone on a zero-hours contract, and not just those who state that it is their main work arrangement. 

Source: Office for National Statistics, Labour Force Survey

Further reading

Long read

What the quality of work means for our health

4 February 2020

About 13 mins to read

Long read

Read about how the quantity and quality of employment has changed over the last 10 years, and the...

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