Up to ten million Britons in insecure work, says GMB

Union report into gig economy 'paints a shocking picture of the modern world of work', claims general secretary

Tim Roache
Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB union
(Image credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

As many as ten million Britons do not have secure employment, according to one of the country's biggest unions.

The GMB revealed its findings after attempting for the first time to quantify the number of people in what it calls "precarious employment", including zero-hours contracts, temporary workers and the underemployed.

Tim Roache, general secretary of the union, told The Guardian the figures "paint a shocking picture of the modern world of work" and warned of the heavy impact such practices had on people's health and family life.

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He said: "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 as a business model and point-blank refusal to ban zero-hours contracts."

Next month sees the publication of a review into the so-called "gig economy" led by Matthew Taylor, a former adviser to Tony Blair, who is is expected to recommend changes to the rights of self-employed workers.

Many companies in the gig economy, such as Uber and Deliveroo, classify all of their drivers as self-employed contractors, which means they do not receive sick or holiday pay.

Deliveroo is currently the subject of a landmark tribunal hearing at which a number of drivers are seeking to be classified as "workers", a middle-ground status in employment law that entitles them to holiday and sick pay but not, for example, the right to claim unfair dismissal.

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