Nearly two in five working Brits – around 10 million people – are given their shifts or work patterns less than a week in advance, “outrageous” figures have revealed, with those on low incomes dealing with the most precarity at work.
A total seven per cent of all working adults in the UK were given less than 24 hours’ notice of their shifts, the Living Wage Foundation study showed, highlighting concerns that people on low pay have less ability to plan their lives due to the uncertainty of their work.
While those who did shift work or had variable working patterns – such as in hospitality or retail – were most impacted, research showed the short-notice trend creeping into other, higher paid professions.
“It is outrageous,” Seema Malhotra, shadow employment minister, told The Big Issue. “Regular and reliable hours are essential in allowing workers to plan their finances and family life.
“The Conservatives have weakened our economy with insecure work leaving many people in unstable, low paid jobs. We cannot go back to what we had before, we need a secure economy with high quality jobs and regular hours.”
The research did not take into account workers in the gig economy, who are given zero-hour contracts and never guaranteed shifts week to week.
But for part and full-time staff, short notice periods were particularly common in London, where nearly half (48 per cent) of all workers were given less than seven days’ notice of their schedules.
That compared to 35 per cent of workers in Scotland and 33 per cent in the North of England.
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Millions of workers have had to “make impossible choices on childcare, transport and other important aspects of family life,” said Laura Gardiner, director of the Living Wage Foundation.
“Low-paid workers have been particularly hard hit during the pandemic, with millions struggling to plan their lives due to the double whammy of changing restrictions on economic activity and insufficient notice of work schedules from employers.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which sets minimum wage policy, said: “We are determined to tackle unfair working practices, while ensuring that everyone can enjoy the benefits of flexible working patterns.