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The Mayor of London The London Assembly

Labour Market

Insecure Employment

The percentage of workers in insecure employment rose steadily between the financial crisis and the pandemic, but fell sharply during the Covid-19 pandemic. In London, around one in sixteen of everyone in work in 2022 is either employed in a job with a temporary contract, working through an employment agency or self-employed in occupations considered insecure*. This compares with around one in twelve in 2006 and one in eleven in 2019. The UK-wide figure was lower than the London figure prior to the pandemic, but remained high during 2020 before fall more sharply between 2020 and 2021, to just over one in twenty of all workers in the latest estimate.

There is a degree to which such insecure employment can be seen as a flexible workforce, with workers able to move easily between jobs, with some workers (particularly well qualified, professional workers) compensated very well for this insecurity.

It is clear that there are some groups of the population more likely to be in insecure employment than others. In particular, young Londoners, with more than one in six of the 16-24 age group in work being in insecure jobs. Black, Pakistani or Bangladeshi and Mixed ethnicity Londoners and Muslim Londoners in employment have higher rates of insecure work than other groups.

*such as caring, leisure or other service occupations, process plant and machine operatives or in elementary occupations.

Zero Hours Contracts

An additional dimension to insecure employment is given through employees on a “zero hours” contract. These contracts can be permanent or temporary contracts. The overall proportion of London residents in employment but without a minimum number of guaranteed hours remains low in overall terms, at around three percent. Although prior to 2013 this was only recorded for less than one percent, some of the difference may be due to awareness of the terms used. It was marginally below the level for the UK as a whole, up until 2020, though that seems to have changed in 2022. Data for young Londoners up to 2020 suggested a much higher, and increasing likelihood for young workers in London to be employed on this type of contract.