Research published by the TUC has found that coronavirus (COVID-19) mortality rates are twice as high for people in insecure jobs (such as the care and leisure sectors) compared to managerial, professional and admin sectors, which have some of the lowest rates.
The reason, according to the TUC, lies in the fact that workers in insecure jobs have largely continued to work outside the home during the pandemic. As a result, they have faced a greater risk of infection while at the same time experiencing the “triple whammy” of a lack of sick pay, fewer rights and endemic low pay.
The analysis showed that:
- The mortality rate for men between 20-64 in insecure jobs was 51 per 100,000, compared to 24 per 100,000 for people in other jobs.
- The mortality rate for women in insecure jobs was 25 per 100,000, compared to 13 per 100,000 for people in other jobs.
Polling by the TUC has also found that insecure workers were almost ten times more likely to say they had not received any sick pay compared to those in secure work (67 per cent to seven per cent).
Currently, the UK has one of the lowest rates of sick pay in Europe and nearly two million workers, including many in insecure work, do not earn enough to qualify for it.
The TUC is calling on ministers to increase statutory sick pay to at least the rate of the real Living Wage and make it available for all, so that insecure workers do not suffer further hardship when required to self-isolate.
Insecure workers are also unlikely to benefit from the full range of employment rights that permanent, more secure workers are entitled to, including vital safeguards such as unfair dismissal and redundancy protections. The TUC says, as a result, too many employers treat insecure workers like “disposable labour”.
The union body is calling on the government to bring forward its long-awaited employment bill to boost workers' rights and end exploitative workplace practices such as zero hours contracts.
It says that the Queen’s Speech on 11 May must contain an employment bill, saying it is a “moment of truth” for the government’s commitment to improving workers’ rights.
Insecure workers (people in jobs without regular hours or income) account for one in nine workers, with women, disabled workers and black and minority ethnic (BAME) workers more likely to be in precarious work.
You can read the analysis in detail here.