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Insecure Work


While unemployment in the UK has been historically low in recent years, large parts of our economy are characterised by insecure work. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis have impacted working life in the UK, accelerating existing trends and producing short and potentially long-term challenges for people in precarious jobs.

Insecure work is not inherently good or bad. However, some of forms of insecurity – particularly when occurring in combination with others – can contribute to higher risk of job loss, lower financial wellbeing and more limited access to important employment rights.

Our UK Insecure Work Index 2022 estimated that 6.2 million people in the UK (20% of the workforce) are in severely insecure work and face the greatest risk of facing these negative long-term effects.

Our analysis shows that structural inequality in the labour market means women, young people, ethnic minority workers and disabled workers are disproportionately likely to be in an insecure job. We’re concerned that some workers are feeling a need to compromise job security to get work that offers the flexibility they need.

Our Insecure Work strand aims to deliver new evidence and ideas to help organisations, policymakers and workers:

  • Protect workers from the negative effects of insecurity
  • Raise the floor of minimum UK working standards
  • Transform the labour market so that everyone has access to rewarding, secure and flexible work.


  • Employer briefing: Supporting workers in insecure jobs

    In the UK, 6.2 million workers are in severely insecure jobs, potentially leading to job loss, poor health, and limited employment rights. The Work Foundation and CMI's analysis indicates that effective management practices can alleviate these issues. Our employer briefing provides guidance for senior leaders and managers to support workers in insecure jobs.

  • Managing Insecurity: The role of good management

    Insecure workers who feel they are treated well at work are 7.5 times more likely to be satisfied with their job. This research, employing a mix-method approach, examines the critical role that good management practices can play in mitigating some of the adverse impacts associated with job insecurity.

  • Delivering Levelling Up? How secure work can reduce regional inequality

    This new report explores the geography of job insecurity across England. It shows there is unequal access to secure employment opportunities across England, and sets out a series of measures that could transform local labour markets, and introduce a big step forward for the Levelling Up agenda..

  • Limiting Choices: Why people risk insecure work

    New research explores the constraints and choices people face when they decide to engage in insecure work. Many of those in insecure work find themselves having to trade security for flexibility to balance work around other factors in their lives.

  • The Disability Gap: Insecure work in the UK

    New analysis of UK labour market data reveals disabled workers are 1.5 times more likely than non-disabled workers to be in severely insecure work. Some groups are particularly disadvantaged, including autistic workers, female disabled workers, and those with mental health conditions.

  • A year of uncertainty? The Retained EU Law Bill 2022 and UK workers' rights

    New analysis from the Work Foundation at Lancaster University reveals that Government plans to rush the ‘sunsetting’ of EU laws by the end of 2023 will put the rights and protections of more than 8.6 million UK workers at risk.

  • The Gender Gap: Insecure work in the UK

    New analysis of UK labour market data has identified a gender insecurity gap, with working women nearly twice as likely as working men to be in severely insecure work – and the situation worsens for mothers, disabled women and women from specific ethnic minority backgrounds.

  • Room to Grow: Removing barriers to training for people on universal credit

    Many people who receive Universal Credit (UC) face conditionality requirements which can impact on their ability to take part in training activity. Through qualitative interviews, this research explored how the training aspirations of people on UC are influenced by the conditionality requirements they are required to meet.