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• NEW analysis by the TUC reveals 1 in 8 workers (12.5%) in the West Midlands are in insecure work
• Insecure work is characterised by low pay, variable hours and fewer rights and protections for workers
• The disproportionate concentration of BME workers in insecure work shows “structural racism in action”, the TUC says

New analysis published today (Monday 14th August) by the TUC finds that 351,300 workers in the West Midlands are in insecure work.  

This is 12.5% of the regional workforce.  

Insecure work is typically low-paid, and those in insecure jobs have fewer rights and protections. This means their hours can be subject to the whims of managers and they can lose work without notice.  

A nation of insecure jobs 

The TUC says the UK is becoming a “nation of insecure jobs”, with precarious and low-paid work widespread in all regions and nations of the UK.   

There are 3.9 million people in insecure employment – that’s 1 in 9 across the workforce.    

The industries with the highest proportion of insecure work are the elementary occupations, caring, and leisure services, and process, plant and machine operatives.  

Low-paid work is increasingly insecure work – in 2011, 1 in 8 low paid jobs were insecure, but by the end of 2022, 1 in 5 low paid jobs were insecure. 

Stark inequalities in the labour market 

The TUC says the disproportionate number of BME workers in insecure work shines a light on “stark inequalities” in the labour market. 

The number of BME workers in insecure work more than doubled from 2011 to the end of 2022 (from 360,200 to 836,340). 

The chance of a BME worker being in an insecure job has also increased, with 1 in 6 being in this position now compared to 1 in 8 in 2011.   

The TUC says the “boom” in BME workers in insecure work accounts for the vast majority of the overall increase in insecure workers over the last decade.  

BME workers account for two thirds of the growth of insecure workers in this period – despite BME workers making up just 14% of the overall workforce.    

Up and down the country, BME workers are significantly more likely to be in insecure work compared to white workers: 


  • BME men are almost twice as likely as white men to be in insecure work (19.6% of BME men in work compared to 11.7% white men) 
  • BME women are much more likely than white women to be in insecure work (15.7% of BME women in work compared to 9.9% white women). 

The TUC says the explosion in the gig economy partly explains the significant rise in BME insecure employment – with the number of BME workers in low-paid self-employment surging over the past decade. TUC analysis has shown a particular rise in low paid self-employment in delivery and driving among BME men. 

Government action needed 

To help tackle structural racism in the labour market and end the scourge of insecure work, the TUC is calling for the government to:  


  • Ban the abusive use of zero-hours contracts by giving workers the right to a contract reflecting their normal hours of work and ensuring all workers receive adequate notice of shifts, and compensation when shifts are cancelled at short notice. 
  • Introduce fair pay agreements to raise the floor of pay and conditions in sectors blighted by insecure work 
  • Crack down on bogus self-employment by introducing a statutory presumption that all individuals will qualify for employment rights unless the employer can demonstrate that they are genuinely self-employed.   
  • End the two-tier workforce and reform the rules on employment status to ensure that all workers benefit from the same employment rights, including statutory redundancy pay, protection from unfair dismissal, family-friendly rights, sick pay and rights to flexible working. 
  • Give workers a day one right to flexible working - not just a right to request. 
  • Establish a comprehensive ethnicity monitoring system covering mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting, recruitment, retention, promotion, pay and grading, access to training, performance management and discipline and grievance procedures. 

 TUC Midlands Regional Secretary Lee Barron said:  

“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect at work.  

“But too many workers in the West Midlands are trapped in low-paid, insecure jobs with limited rights and protections, and treated like disposable labour.  

“It’s time to end the scourge of insecure work once and for all. 

“That means banning exploitative zero hours contracts.  

“It means delivering fair pay agreements to lift pay and standards across whole industries. 

“And it means tackling the discrimination that holds BME workers back – including by placing a duty on employers to report their ethnicity pay gap and take action to close it.”  

On disproportionate numbers of BME workers in insecure work, Lee Barron added: 

“Across the labour market, and at every stage, BME workers face discrimination and persistent barriers at work.  

“From not getting the job despite being qualified for the role, to being passed over for promotion, to being unfairly disciplined at work.  

“These barriers lead to stark inequalities – and it’s why we’re seeing BME workers disproportionately in the worst jobs with the worst pay and conditions. 

“The massive and disproportionate concentration of BME workers in insecure work – like in the gig economy – is structural racism in action.” 

Editors note


The total number in ‘insecure work’ includes: 

(1) agency, casual, seasonal and other workers, but not those on fixed – term contracts   

(2) workers whose primary job is a zero-hours contract 
To note - data on temporary workers and zero-hour workers is taken from the Labour Force Survey. Double counting has been excluded.  

(3) self-employed workers who are paid below 66% of median earnings – defined as low pay.   

The data on the low paid self-employed is from the Family Resources Survey 2021/22 and commissioned by the TUC from Landman Economics. The Family Resources Survey suggests that fewer people are self-employed than the Labour Force Survey. And the data from the Family Resources survey looks at from age 18+. 

This year the methodology for insecure work is slightly different to previous years – the data is consistent from 2011 to 2022. For 2011 the low paid self employment data we use is from the Family Resources Survey 2010/11 and use the median pay for that year to work out low pay.  

 -TUC report can be found here: 


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