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Almost 1.5 million workers at risk of missing out on employment protections

December 21 2016

A report by the TUC published last week has revealed that one in 10 workers in the UK are now in precarious work and that 1.5 million workers are at risk of missing out on key employment protections.

The number of workers who risk losing out on these rights has nearly doubled over a decade, increasing by 700,000. The rights include sick pay, redundancy pay and protection from unfair dismissal.

The TUC report, Living on the Edge, reveals that there are now 1.5 million people who risk missing out on protection from unfair dismissal and the right to redundancy pay, even if they have worked for two years or more for their employer. Almost half a million people, 485,000, have no legal right to sick pay due to low pay.

There has also been an increase in the pay penalty for those in precarious work since 2006.

Those on zero-hours contracts now earn £3.80 less per hour than the average employee – 34 per cent less, compared to 26 per cent less in 2006. Hourly pay for zero-hours workers has increased by just 67 pence in the last decade.

Self-employed workers now have earnings 40 per cent lower than those of employees, compared to 28 per cent lower in 2006. One in three self-employed households earn less than £200 a week – affecting more than 1.2 million families.

The average pay for casual workers has not changed during the decade, and the continue to be paid nearly 40 per cent less an hour than the average worker.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Insecure work has exploded in the past decade. In far too many cases, the only people who’ve benefited are bad bosses.

“Gig economy workers face the double hit of poverty wages and weaker employment rights. Whether they’re waiting table or driving for Uber, all workers deserve respect, fair pay and basic protections. But the law hasn’t kept pace with how work has changed.”

Sophie Shaw, a waitress and union member who has worked in precarious jobs for eight years, said: “Zero-hours contracts can feel like you have zero rights too. If you get sick when you should be work, you simply don’t get paid and might even be considered unreliable by your manager.

“I’ve even seen a colleague continue working in the kitchen with a broken arm, because they couldn’t afford time off.

“Making any sort of financial plan is impossible when you don’t have guaranteed hours and are on rubbish pay. It’s no way to live.”