Four and a half million people in England and Wales are working in insecure jobs, leaving many struggling to manage personal finances or plan for the future, according to new research by Citizens Advice.
A Citizens Advice analysis of the ONS Labour Market Survey reveals that over 2.3m people are working variable shift patterns, while 1.1m are on temporary contracts and a further 800,000 are on either zero hour or agency contracts.
The national charity says insecure work, which doesn’t guarantee regular hours or predictable shift patterns, can leave many unable to balance household finances.
A survey by ComRes of 2,067 British adults, on behalf of Citizens Advice, also shows that 92% of people say a steady and reliable job is just as important as take-home-pay (93%) when looking for employment.
The survey also suggests that employers could have a great deal to gain from offering more secure employment opportunities, with 83% of respondents saying a secure job with regular pay boosts productivity. Almost nine in ten (86%) say they’re more likely to show loyalty toward employers who offer secure employment.
Citizens Advice have welcomed the introduction of the new ‘National Living Wage’ as a means to help increase worker’s wages, but urged the Government to improve people’s security at work.
Previous research by the charity revealed how 83% of those in insecure jobs were struggling with debt problems and 87% needed help with in-work benefits, including tax credits and Housing Benefit.
Kate (not her real name) told Citizens Advice: “I worked anything from 12-50 hours each week. Not having set hours was really difficult as some weeks I did not have enough money to cover my bills or rent.
“I never knew how much money I would have so I could never budget or plan ahead.”
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Income security is the overlooked piece of the labour market puzzle.
“While for some people working shifts or temporary contracts may provide the flexibility they want, many others struggle to balance the books in the face of such insecure employment.
“We’ve found that when people are looking for work, getting a steady income is just as important to them as what they’ll be paid.
She added: “Having a steady, reliable income is fundamental to how secure people feel and is key if the government wants to achieve its ambition of a high wage, low welfare economy.
“Offering people a secure income is also in the interest of employers, as it boosts staff morale and productivity.”