Enterprises such as Uber, Airbnb and Deliveroo may claim that the growth of the UK’s gig economy has provided workers with greater flexibility and new opportunities, and customers with greater accessibility to the services they need. However, recent research has warned about it’s negative impact on the health of workers and their family lives.
Research conducted by GMB, Britain’s general trade union, has indicated that almost a third of the UK workforce is without secure employment. After quantifying the number of workers in precarious employment, GMB have claimed that the data “paints a shocking picture of the modern world of work”. Tim Roache, the GMB’s general secretary, added that “up to 10 million people go to work either not knowing what their hours are, if they’ll be able to pay the bills, or what their long term prospects are”.
Further data supports the union’s claims with 61% of workers without secure employment suffering from stress and anxiety, affecting their home lives. Other workers confirmed that they had gone to work whilst feeling unwell due to the fear that they would lose pay, future hours, or even their jobs if they didn’t turn up. The fact that 75% of those interviewed had previously been in permanent and secure employment shows the rapid change in the employment scene which, arguably, is causing the problems that are beginning to come to light.
Not only does the insecurity within the gig economy have a detrimental impact on workers, but the rapid rise in insecure work in the UK is also costing the government almost £4bn a year in lost tax income and benefit pay-outs. The growing legions of low-paid, self-employed workers and those on zero-hours contracts earn significantly less than regular employees and therefore pay less tax and national insurance. Their relatively low earnings also make them more likely to need to rely on in-work benefits such as tax credits and housing benefits.
The research comes just weeks before the Government publish the recommendations of Matthew Taylor (a former adviser to Tony Blair) who has just conducted a review into the gig economy. He is expected to make key recommendations that support and strengthen the rights of self-employed workers whilst helping to mitigate the strain being placed on them by the gig economy. Whether the post-election Government decides to act upon these recommendations will be interesting to see.
Up to 10 million Britons or nearly a third of the UK workforce do not have secure employment, according to the GMB union, which has warned of a heavy impact on health and family life. The union’s research, unveiled at its 100th annual congress in Plymouth on Monday, attempts to quantify people in what it calls precarious employment – those in the gig economy, on zero- or short-hours contracts, temporary workers, the underemployed and those at risk of false self-employment.