Workplace Report (May 2021)

Health & safety - HSE Monitor

Insecure workers ‘twice as likely to die’

A new TUC analysis shows that gig economy and other workers on precarious contracts are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than those in more secure work. The TUC says they are having to shoulder more risk of infection during this pandemic, while facing the “triple whammy” of a lack of sick pay, fewer rights and endemic low pay.

The stark figures reveal a Covid-19 male mortality rate of 51 per 100,000 people aged 20-64 in insecure occupations, compared to 24 per 100,000 people in more secure occupations. The female mortality rates are 25 per 100,000, compared to 13 per 100,000 respectively.

Insecure workers are those on a contract that does not guarantee regular hours or income, including zero-hours contracts, agency work and casual work, or in low-paid self-employment, earning less than the National Living Wage. They now account for one in nine workers.

New TUC polling, conducted by BritainThinks, found that insecure workers are almost 10 times more likely to say they receive no sick pay compared to those in secure work – 67% compared to 7%. This lack of sick pay, says the TUC, is forcing people to choose between self-isolation and putting food on the table.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady called on the government to raise statutory sick pay to the level of the real Living Wage, and make sure everyone can get it, and to ban zero-hours contracts and false-self-employment.

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