Temporary workers are losing out on crucial rights warns union

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Thousands of temporary employees in north Nottinghamshire could be missing out on workplace rights, a trade union has warned.

New estimates from the Office of National Statistics show that 21,300 people in Nottinghamshire are employed in non-permanent jobs. They include fixed-term contracts and agency, casual or seasonal work.

The figure equates to six percent of the county’s workforce, which is one percent higher than the average across the UK.

Temporary workers are part of a larger group in “precarious work”, says the Trades Union Congress which estimates that one in nine UK workers fall into that bracket. These include staff on zero-hours contracts and self-employed people making less than minimum wage.

General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Lack of reliable income is not the only problem for people in this type of work.

“Insecure workers too often miss out on important rights like sick pay, parental leave or paid holidays. The Government should give all workers the same basic rights.”

Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary at trade union Unite, said the truth about insecure work in the UK is “far worse” than the official figures show.

She said: “Increasing numbers of workers are being forced into toxic, precarious, non-permanent employment, making it impossible to plan for their future and always fearful of dismissal.

“These figures don’t include the hundreds of thousands of workers who are forced into bogus self-employment, where they have all the characteristics of an employee but none of the rights.”

Research by the TUC found that the UK’s gig economy workforce has doubled since 2016. Nearly one in 10 adults are now working for app-based companies, such as Uber and Deliveroo, at least once a week.

Gig economy workers are currently classed as self-employed. As a result, they are not entitled to sick pay, paid holidays or annual leave.

The majority of these workers have multiple jobs, and use platform work to supplement other forms of income.

Although there is no data on how many people in Nottinghamshire are in gig economy jobs, 14% of workers are self-employed, and 3% have second jobs.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the Government’s Good Work Plan will improve the rights of temporary and gig economy workers.

It includes scrapping a legal loophole which enables some firms to pay agency workers less than permanent staff.

A BEIS spokesperson said: “We have a labour market we can be proud of, with more people in work than ever before.

“We are committed to ensuring the labour market works for everyone, and we’re the first country in the world to address modern working practices.”