Toggle high contrast
Issue date
The South West region has the highest proportion of UK workers employed under insecure work contracts

A new report published today (Monday 29 July) by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) shows the South West has the highest proportion (12.6%) of insecure workers out of all regions and nations in the UK.

According to the TUC South West, an estimated 354,000 working people in the South West region are affected by precarious employment.

The TUC report defines workers in insecure work as:

  • Workers on a zero-hours contract as their primary occupation;
  • Other forms of insecure work including agency, casual and seasonal and other workers (but not those on fixed-term contracts);
  • Low paid self-employed (earning an hourly rate below the national Minimum Wage).

Many working households struggle to make ends meet. 

Nigel Costley, regional secretary of the TUC in the South West said:

“For too long, workers in the South West have been held back by persistent low wages, high living costs and insecure work to get by.”

“We’re not fooled by these allegedly flexible contracts that only ever work one way – in the boss’ favour.”

“There is nothing good about a job where you don’t know how much you’ll earn from one week to the next, or you are denied even the most basic workplace rights.”

“The UK may have a new Prime Minister, but unless Mr Johnson prioritises the real issues that are affecting working people, nothing has changed.”

“It’s not right that we are still seeing many working households struggle to make ends meet because the government is failing to protect workers properly.”

The TUC report sets out a clear checklist for the new PM and business secretary to improve working people’s lives, including:

  • Ban zero-hours contracts and clamp down on sham self-employment
  • Give all workers the same basic rights at work from day one - including redundancy pay and family-friendly rights
  • Introduce stronger protections for working people that prevent bad bosses from exploiting workers
  • Give workers the freedom to be protected by a union in every workplace

Under a no-deal Brexit the TUC says Britain’s insecure work crisis would mushroom, with vital workplace protections no longer guaranteed for any worker.

Editors note

- The report contains figures that show insecure workers are often in core industries:

  • One in six workers (17 per cent) in social care and leisure roles are in insecure work.
  • Nearly one in five (19 per cent) of those in skilled trades are in insecure work.
  • One in five (20 per cent) of those in ‘elementary roles’ – including kitchen assistants, security guards and farm workers

- The report further shows:

  • Nearly two million UK workers (1.85m) are stuck in low-paid self-employment earning less than the minimum wage
  • Insecure workers often have no security of income and frequently miss out on basic workplace rights such as sick pay, parental leave or holidays.

- A full definition of 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,
  3. self-employed workers who are paid less than the National Living Wage (£8.21).

- Data on temporary workers and zero-hour workers is taken from the Labour Force Survey (Q4 2018). Double counting has been excluded.
For low-paid self-employment: The minimum wage for adults over 25 is currently £8.21 and is also known as the National Living Wage. The number of working people aged 25 and over earning below £8.21 is 1,850,000 from a total of 4,030,000 self-employed workers in the UK. The figures come from analysis of data for 2017/18 (the most recent available) in the Family Resources Survey and were commissioned by the TUC from Landman Economics. The Family Resources Survey suggests that fewer people are self-employed than other data sources, including the Labour Force Survey.

- A breakdown of South West regional figures have been calculated using Q4 2018 regional figures from the Labour Force Survey, and estimated calculations on the proportions of workers for each locality in the region.

Number of workers in insecure work


3.7 million

South West


West of England




















Ban zero-hours contracts Too many workers are being denied job security, sick pay and holiday pay - and insecure work is out of control.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication

To access the admin area, you will need to setup two-factor authentication (TFA).

Setup now