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Up To 10 Million Insecure UK Workers

Monday, June 5, 2017



Shocking poll unveiled at GMB’s 100th Annual Congress, shows up to a third of the workforce is in precarious employment.

GMB, the union for gig economy workers, has revealed shocking statistics at that shows up to 10 million people are currently in insecure work.

The research, unveiled at the union’s 100th annual congress in Plymouth today, shows up to one in three of the workforce are now in precarious employment – defined as those in the gig economy, on zero or short hours contracts, temporary workers, the underemployed and those at risk of bogus self-employment.

Precarious work impacts on the individual worker, their family and on the Treasury.

A GMB poll asked 1,000 precarious workers about their finances and priorities and found:

- 61% had suffered stress or anxiety as a result of their current job

- 61% said they have been to work while unwell for fear of not being paid, losing their job or missing out on future hours

- 35% would struggle to cope with an unexpected bill for £500, such as a car needing repairs or washing machine needing to be replaced

- 69% say their cost of living is rising faster than their earnings

- 78% previously had permanent employment, highlighting the changing nature of the workplace

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:

“This paints a shocking picture of the modern world of work.

“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.

"That's a sorry state of affairs in the 21st century and a product of government's failure to tackle bogus self-employment, the use of agency contracts a business model and point blank refusal to ban zero hours contracts.

“We hear a lot about employment figures, well this research shows the today’s job market is based on a shaky foundation of insecure work where people are doing their best but still not able to get on. Insecure work impacts on people’s health, their families and whether they are able to plan for the future. 

"If our economy slows down even further – these precarious workers will be the first to suffer.

“There is a political choice to be made. Our workforce, communities and indeed the Treasury is paying the price of insecure work, it's not fair and it's not sustainable."


Contact: GMB Press Office on 7958 156846 or at

Notes to editors:

Precarious worker poll Survation interviewed 1,003 'precarious workers' in the UK aged 18-65 online from 21st - 25th May 2017. Survation is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. As there has been no authoritative data collected on the demographic makeup of 'precarious workers' as defined in this poll, data were not weighted.

A demographically representative sample of respondents aged 18-65 who were not either retired or unemployed in the UK were initially targeted, with those eligible continuing into the survey. The incidence for this survey was estimated to be 34%.

The categories include zero and short hours contracts, temporary contracts, underemployed, gig economy and at risk of false self-employment.

The full data table is available here

Calculating number of precarious workers According to the Office of National Statistics Labour Force Survey figures published May 17 2017 there are currently 31,947,000 people employed in the UK.

With an incidence of 34% in the survey, GMB estimates up to 10,861,980 people in work in the UK fall in the above categories defined by GMB as 'insecure work'.

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