Workers in insecure jobs twice as likely to die of Covid, TUC research finds | Zero-hours contracts

Workers on zero-hours contracts and other insecure jobs are twice as likely to have died of Covid-19 as those in other professions, according to a report revealing stark inequalities in the workplace.

The research from the Trades Union Congress in England and Wales showed those on the frontline of the pandemic, such as care workers, nurses and delivery drivers, were at a higher risk of death. It said many of these key workers were in insecure work, such as zero-hours contracts and agency employment, landing them with a “triple whammy” of no sick pay, fewer rights and endemic low pay, while having to shoulder more risk of infection.

According to analysis of official figures by the trade union umbrella group, Covid-19 mortality rates among male workers in insecure jobs was 51 per 100,000 people aged 20-64, compared with 24 out of 100,000 in more secure work. For female staff the rate was 25 per 100,000, compared with 13 per 100,000 in higher-paying secure work.

Insecure jobs were defined using occupations with a higher proportion of workers employed on contracts that did not guarantee regular hours or income, or low-paid self-employment.

According to the TUC’s analysis, sectors such as care, leisure, and occupations such as labouring, factory and warehouse work have the highest rates of insecure work, compared with managerial, professional and administrative roles, which have some of the lowest.