MORE than four million workers’ livelihoods are subject to the whims of their bosses as they toil in insecure work, a Citizens Advice study reveals today.
While an estimated 800,000 people in England and Wales are lumped with headlinegrabbing zero-hours contracts, more than 2.3m are stuck working variable shift patterns and another 1.1m only have temporary contracts with their employers.
Citizens Advice warned the situation is a serious challenge to workers when planning their finances, as well as piling on stress levels and anxiety.
A 22-year-old care worker who asked Citizens Advice for help described a contract where she was working anything between 12 and 50 hours a week.
“Not having set hours was really difficult as some weeks I did not have enough money to cover my bills or rent,” she said.
“I never knew how much money I would have so I could never budget or plan ahead.”
Most of the 2,000 people surveyed by Citizens Advice confirmed that a job with a reliable income was just as important as the amount they were paid.
More than four-fifths said steady work and regular pay rises increased productivity and employee loyalty.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Income security is the overlooked piece of the labour market puzzle. “While for some people working shifts or temporary contracts may provide the flexibility they want, many others struggle to balance the books in the face of such insecure employment.
“Having a steady, reliable income is fundamental to how secure people feel and is key if the government wants to achieve its ambition of a highwage, low-welfare economy.
“Offering people a secure income is also in the interest of employers, as it boosts staff morale and productivity.”
A TUC spokesman told the Star: “Insecure work has become a major problem, causing families uncertainty and stress.”
“We welcome proposals coming out of the EU for stronger rights for zero-hours workers.
“We are better off fighting against the rise of insecure work across the whole of the EU to stop undercutting and a race to the bottom.”