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Key points

  • The proportion of employees who experienced no negative aspects of job quality improved between 2010/11 and 2018/19, from 50.9% to 55.9%.

  • The proportion of employees experiencing one negative aspect of job quality remained consistent at around 30% for 2010/11 and 2018/19. 

  • The proportion who experienced two or more negative aspects of job quality fell by 3.5 percentage points between 2010/11 and 2018/19 to 14.7%. 

This chart shows the number of employees experiencing no, one or multiple negative aspects of job quality from 2010/11 to 2018/19. Each individual’s experiences at work are assessed according to five aspects of job quality: job satisfaction, job wellbeing, job autonomy, job security and pay. 

Just over two in five employees (44.1%) experienced at least one negative aspect of job quality in 2018/19 and:

  • 4.2% of employees experienced three or more
  • 10.5% of employees experienced two
  • 29.4% experienced one.

The remaining 55.9% of employees experienced no negative aspects of job quality. There were small improvements in job quality between 2010/11 and 2018/19. The proportion of employees with no negative aspects of job quality rose from 50.9% to 55.9% between 2010/11 and 2018/19.  The number of negative job aspects is associated with higher proportions of people with poor health.

2010/11 to 2018/19 was a period of strong employment growth, and there were some improvements in job quality. However, 14.7% of employees are still experiencing multiple negative job aspects, highlighting the need for an active strategy to improve the quality of work.

This indicator adapts and builds on measures used by Chandola and Zhang and is based on available data from the University of Essex Understanding Society survey.

Aspects of low-quality work are measured as follows:

  • low job satisfaction – employees who report feeling somewhat, mostly or completely dissatisfied with their job 
  • low job autonomy – across five dimensions of job autonomy, an average score indicating little to no autonomy
  • low job wellbeing – across six measures of emotional perceptions of jobs (whether it inspires feelings of tension, unease, worry, depression, gloom or misery), an average score indicating these feelings most or all the time
  • low job security – perception that job loss is either likely or very likely in the next 12 months 
  • low pay – earnings are below two-thirds of UK hourly median pay. The questions are asked of employees only aged 18–55 (self-employed people are excluded) and are specific to each job they hold.

Source: University of Essex, Understanding Society, The UK Household Longitudinal Study, 2010–17

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