Insecure at work

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • In terms of feeling satisfied with their job, there is a marked difference between part-time and temporary employees.
  • Most (three-quarters) of part-time employees do not want a full-time job.  By contrast, only a quarter of temporary employees do not want a permanent job.  This suggests that, whereas part-time employment is generally a positive choice, temporary employment is often not. 1
  • Over the last decade, the number of people on temporary contracts has remained fairly steady, at between 35,000 and 40,000 people.
  • The proportion of workers belonging to a trade union is much lower among low-paid employees than among any other pay group.  Less than one in ten workers earning less than £7 an hour belong to a trade union compared with at least two-fifths of those earning £10 or more per hour (noting that these proportions are based on very small sample sizes, with consequent uncertainties about their precise values).

Definitions and data sources

The first graph shows the principal reasons that working-age people give for taking part-time work or temporary work.  In each case, the main point of interest is those taking these forms of work who would prefer, respectively, full-time or permanent work.  Note that students are excluded from the analysis of part-time work.

The fourth graph shows the number of temporary workers who are of working age.  A temporary employee is one who said that his/her main job is non-permanent in one of the following ways: fixed period contracts; agency temping; casual work; seasonal work; and other temporary work.

The third graph shows the proportion of people currently employed who are members of a trade union or staff association, with the data shown separately by level of pay.

The data source for all the graphs is the Labour Force Survey (LFS).  In the first two graphs, the data is the average for the latest three years.  The figures in the third graph are for the fourth quarter of the latest year (the data is only collected in the fourth quarter).

Overall adequacy of the indicator: high.  The LFS is a large, a well-established, quarterly government survey of designed to be representative of the population as a whole.

1. Note that the use of three-year averages in the graph masks an increase during the current recession in the number of part-time employees who wanted, but could not find, full-time employment.