The public debate about atypical forms of work (such as the gig economy, zero-hours working and agency work) in recent years has created the perception that the UK’s labour market is becoming less secure. This report challenges this notion.

This report examines a range of evidence proving that the so-called ‘casualisation’ of work in the UK has been overstated:

  • Atypical working in the UK remains exactly that – atypical. The proportion of people working atypically in the UK labour market has been stable for the past 20 years.
  • The UK has a low share of non-permanent employment compared to other major economies – permanent employment remains the norm for most people and jobs are just as stable as they were 20 years ago.
  • Most of the UK’s workers feel secure, with most people entering non-permanent work out of choice rather than necessity. Protections for temporary workers have increased.

Nevertheless, the report highlights that there are still millions of employees in the UK, many of them in permanent positions, who report some degree of insecurity: fear of not getting another job as least as good, cuts in wages, or being discriminated against in the workplace.

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Megatrends: Is work in the UK really becoming less secure?

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Why this research matters

The evidence uncovered in this report is informing the CIPD’s recommendations to the UK’s policy-makers. To-date, policy-makers’ efforts to create ‘Good Work’ have disproportionately focused on atypical workers, at the expense of more holistic interventions that would benefit the entire labour market. The CIPD is therefore calling for the UK Government to expand its Good Work Plan to incorporate more action that would address concerns about job quality and security across the economy, not just for those on atypical contracts. Download the report to find out more about our recommendations.

Ensuring those on atypical contracts are managed fairly

Although this research suggests that policy makers have been over-focused on atypical workers, there is some evidence of bad practice in the way these workers are managed. To help address this, the CIPD has developed a new guide setting out the people management and development practices organisations need to ensure that atypical working arrangements meet the needs of the business, while treating atypical workers fairly.

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