Britain’s labour market needs a “fundamentally new approach” to tackle insecure work and stagnant pay amongst young people, according to a new report.
The Resolution Foundation think tank said young people are “spending long periods in insecure and low-paid work” and that a “better jobs deal” is needed to prevent “even deeper scars” being inflicted on their career progression.
The Kids Aren’t Alright report, for the Intergenerational Commission, found that more than half of those on zero-hour contracts – which Unite wants banned outright – are aged between 16 and 34.
The reports calls for increased rights for those on zero or short hour contracts, including guaranteeing fixed-hour contracts after three months, minimum notification periods for shifts and protections for workers who turn down non-guaranteed hours.
The report also recommends the government introduce a “payroll levy” on PAYE-registered firms who rely on people working for themselves to “discourage firms from using self-employed contractors.”
Resolution Foundation senior economic analyst Stephen Clarke said a “sea change” is needed in the labour market.
He said, “(There’s) a triple whammy of stagnating wages, insecure work and too many young people not feeling able to take up opportunities to move on and progress.
“Dole queues have been replaced by hidden insecurity and stagnant wages. The challenge is no longer just getting young people into work but increasing the security they have in that work and giving them the confidence and support to move jobs if that’s what they want to do.”
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner called for zero-hour contracts to be banned outright.
He said, “Insecure work is a modern scourge that is disenfranchising millions of young people, who are living week to week and unable to plan for their futures. This isn’t a unforeseen effect of the Tory economy, it’s built into their model of only serving the needs of the very richest.
“An outright ban on zero hour contracts, tighter laws to prevent bogus self-employment, the introduction of sectoral collective bargaining and a £10 minimum wage would go along way to rebalancing the labour market towards the interests of the majority.
“Crucially, the government must give trade unions improved access to workplaces. This would stop young workers from being prevented from organising for better wages and conditions by exploitative employers.”