The UK Insecure Work Index: two decades of insecurity


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New in-depth analysis of UK job market data reveals women, disabled people, ethnic minorities and young workers have been consistently affected by insecure employment over the last twenty years.

The Work Foundation, a leading think-tank dedicated to improving work in the UK, today launches its new ‘UK Insecure Work Index’ that details the prevalence of in-work insecurity felt by workers across the UK, and reveals how this insecurity has changed over the last two decades.

Using ONS labour market data from 2000 to 2021, the Work Foundation index focuses on three elements that can constitute insecurity at work – employment contracts, personal finances and access to workers’ rights.

Findings show that some groups of workers are consistently trapped in the most severe category of in-work insecurity over the last twenty years, which has affected 20-25% of workers every year on average and an estimated 6.2 million workers just last year:

  • Young workers who are two and half times more likely to be in severely insecure work than those in the middle of their working lives (43% of 16-24-year-olds versus 17% of 25-65-year-olds)
  • Women who are 10 percentage points more likely to be in severely insecure work than men (25% compared to 15%)
  • Ethnic minority workers are more likely to be in severely insecure work than white workers (24% versus 19%). Men from ethnic minority backgrounds are 10 percentage points more likely to experience severely insecure work compared to white men (23% versus 13%)
  • Disabled workers who are 6 percentage points more likely to experience severely insecure work, compared to non-disabled workers (25% compared to 19%).

Data also reveals the sectors most at risk of severe in-work insecurity are hospitality, services and agriculture, which see one in three workers affected, compared to one in five nationally.

The launch of the UK Insecure Work Index is the benchmark for the Work Foundation’s Insecure Work Research Programme, which aims to produce timely insights on insecure work in the UK going forward.

Download the UK Insecure Work Index

Download the Technical Annex

The Work Foundation are hosting an event exploring Two decades of insecurity at 10.00-11.00 on 23 June 2022, which will explore the findings in the UK Insecure Work Index. Sign up on Eventbrite.


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