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The Mayor of London The London Assembly

Labour Market

Insecure Employment

The percentage of workers in insecure employment has risen over the last decade. In London, around one in eleven of everyone in work was 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. The UK-wide figure had increased more slowly, standing at around one in twelve of all workers in 2019.

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, Black, Pakistani or Bangladeshi Londoners and Muslim Londoners in employment have higher rates of insecure work than older Londoners, White British and Indian Londoners or Hindu or non religious Londoners.

*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 just above 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 has tracked marginally below the level for the UK as a whole, though the gap has now closed. However, there is clearly a much higher, and increasing likelihood for young workers in London to be employed on this type of contract.