It is often said that work in the UK is becoming less secure. But this report finds that although pockets of insecurity exist, work is actually becoming more secure on most measures. Over the past decade, unemployment, long-term unemployment, and inactivity have all decreased in the UK. We’ve also seen fewer people working variable hours, working part time involuntarily or wanting to work more hours. Low pay and variable pay both declined too.

Our analysis tells us that rather than eliminating certain types of contract from the labour market (which has been the focus of much discussion around insecure and atypical work), choice and job quality should be at the heart of discussions about different ways of working.

A labour market with more choice will include diverse ways of working, including some forms of work that are less secure, but which suit some people’s preferences. The best way to protect people from insecure work that does not suit their needs is to strengthen enforcement of existing employment rights across the labour market and help employers to manage atypical working arrangements responsibly.

While these findings are based on UK data, the broader trends and implications should be of interest wherever you are based.

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Executive summary: Has work become less secure?

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Report: Has work become less secure?

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Key recommendations

To enable the focus to remain on broader job quality, the CIPD’s key policy recommendations from this report concentrate on enforcement, and skills and learning.


  • Increase the number of labour market enforcement inspectors to one per 10,000 workers.
  • The UK Government should take full responsibility for compensating employees and taking action against employers for non-payment of employment tribunal awards.
  • Double Acas’s budget to boost its ability to advise small employers and individuals on people management, workplace conflict and employment rights.
  • Allocate SEB inspectors on a regional as well as sectoral basis to ensure local employers and their staff are made fully aware of relevant employment legislation and rights and are supported to deliver them effectively.
  • Ensure the SEB is adequately resourced and has the power to make decisions on a range of areas.
  • Invest £13 million a year in England to provide high-quality HR support to small firms via the Growth Hub network to support efforts to improve compliance and boost job quality and workplace productivity at a local level. There would need to be consequential funding to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to improve the availability of accessible HR support for small firms across the UK.

Skills and progression

  • Offer a wider training levy to help businesses invest both in apprenticeships and other, more flexible and cost-effective forms of training.
  • Introduce Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs). If designed in the right way, ILAs offer flexibility and individualisation to support learners throughout their working lives.
  • Encourage and incentivise more employers, particularly small firms, to invest in improving their people management and development capability.

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