Fewer than half of British employees work 'regular jobs'

October 04, 2001

The popular image of a regular job is one that offers permanent employment and is done at the employer's premises, during the day, and for between 30 and 48 hours a week. But new research from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Future of Work Programme, shows that the majority of British employees do not fit this stereotype. Drawing on a large representative sample of employees from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), interviewed annually since 1991, Professor Alison Booth and Dr Marco Francesconi from the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) show that:

 Approximately 59% of men and 52% of women in employment in Britain today are in 'non-standard' jobs - ones that are either temporary; or involve working away from the employer's premises; or for less than 30 or more than 48 hours; or not during the regular working day.

 17% of British employees work more than 48 hours a week; 9% work less than 16 hours a week; and 13% work between 16 and 29 hours a week.

 85% of British employees work at their employer's premises; the remainder are either working at home, in more than one place, or travelling. 92% of British employees are on permanent contracts. And around 70% work standard times during the day while the remaining 30% work at other times, including shift work.

 Despite the 'strategy of enlargement' pursued by many trade unions during the 1990s, specifically aimed at recruiting 'non-standard workers', there has been no expansion of union coverage towards any type of non-standard employment. The only trend over time is a continued statistically significant decline in union coverage for all workers, especially for men.

 There are significant gender differences in the distribution of union recognition across employees in non-standard jobs. Women across nearly all types of non-standard jobs are significantly less likely to be union-covered than women in regular employment. But for men, this negative relationship is only found for men working on fixed term contracts, in more than one place or for non-standard hours (less than the standard working week of 30-48 hours).

 There are significant differences in the relationship between non-standard work and union coverage across the private and public sectors. There is greater union coverage for standard public sector men and women than for their non-standard counterparts.

 This picture is likely to change in the near future, as a result of recent government legislation and European Union Directives for non-standard workers. Whether this leads to an increase or a decrease in union coverage of non-standard workers remains to be seen - the various new provisions could act as either a substitute or a complement to the benefits that union organisation conveys to covered workers.
For Further Information contact:

On Monday 24th September 2001 Marco Francesconi on 01206-873534 (email: mfranc@essex.ac.uk) and Alison Booth, ISER, 01206-873789 (email: albooth@essex.ac.uk).

Or ISER Communications Adviser Romesh Vaitilingam on 0117-983-9770 or 07768-661095 (email: romesh@compuserve.com).

Or contact David Ridley or Lesley Lilley in ESRC External Relations on 01793-413118 or 413119.

Notes for Editors

1. 'Union Coverage for Non-standard Workers in Britain' by Alison Booth and Marco Francesconi will be presented at a symposium on work within the ESRC's £4m Future of Work Programme on 25 September. The authors are at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex (www.iser.essex.ac.uk). Other speakers at the conference will include Juan Dolado (Universidad Carlos III, Madrid) on the incidence of temporary employment in Spain which has soared in response to high unemployment; and Bertil Holmlund (Uppsala University) on similar work in Sweden in response to economic turbulence.

2. The ESRC is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It has a track record of providing high-quality, relevant research to business, the public sector and government. The ESRC invests more than £46 million every year in social science research. At any time, its range of funding schemes may be supporting 2,000 researchers within academic institutions and research policy institutes. It also funds postgraduate training within the social sciences, thereby nurturing the researchers of tomorrow. The ESRC website address is http://www.esrc.ac.uk.

3. The Future of Work Programme was launched by the ESRC in October 1998 and is helping to rectify the gaps in our knowledge. Comprising 27 projects and involving more than one hundred leading researchers across the UK, this is the most systematic and rigorous enquiry of its kind, providing evidence-based research for a better understanding of the changing world of work in a period of rapid social, technological and economic change. For further details about the contact Professor Peter Nolan Tel 0113-233-4504.

Economic & Social Research Council

Related Employees Articles from Brightsurf:

How initiatives empowering employees can backfire
Strategies meant to motivate people in the workplace may have unintended consequences -- depending on who's in charge.

Some employees more likely to adhere to information security policies than others
Information security policies (ISP) that are not grounded in the realities of an employee's work responsibilities and priorities exposes organizations to higher risk for data breaches, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Covert tobacco industry marketing tactics exposed by former employees
Tobacco companies use covert marketing tactics and exploit loopholes in Australian tobacco control laws to promote their products despite current tobacco advertising bans, finds new research from University of Sydney and Cancer Council NSW.

How employees' rankings disrupt cooperation and how managers can restore it
First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado, second prize a set of steak knives, third prize you're firedĀ».

Employees less upset at being replaced by robots than by other people
Generally speaking, most people find the idea of workers being replaced by robots or software worse than if the jobs are taken over by other workers.

Some LGBT employees feel less supported at federal agencies
Workplace inequality is visible when it involves gender and race, but less so with sexual identity and gender expression.

Workplace interventions may improve sleep habits and duration for employees
Simple workplace interventions, like educating employees about the importance of sleep and providing behavioral sleep strategies, may produce beneficial results, according to a new review.

To keep the creative juices flowing, employees should be receptive to criticism
Though most firms today embrace a culture of criticism, when supervisors and peers dispense negative feedback it can actually stunt the creative process, according to a new study co-authored by Yeun Joon Kim, a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

How a positive work environment leads to feelings of inclusion among employees
Fostering an inclusive work environment can lead to higher satisfaction, innovation, trust and retention among employees, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

How susceptible are hospital employees to phishing attacks?
A multicenter study finds high click rate for simulated phishing emails, potential benefit in phishing awareness training.

Read More: Employees News and Employees Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.