A study by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has found that self-employment and temporary work has increased “significantly” in the UK compared with other EU countries.
The report revealed that the UK had the biggest increase in the number of self-employed workers in the EU from 2008 to 2015 and the third largest rise in temporary workers.
A growth of insecure employment such as zero-hours contracts has also been reported. The TUC suggests that this is due to a lack of effective legislation to prevent it.
Frances Grady, General Secretary, TUC, said: “In Germany, employment growth has been the strongest in the EU, but at the same time insecure employment has declined. It’s time Britain stopped being a soft touch for bad bosses.”
Noting that workers in France could only be on a fixed-term contract for 18 months, while zero-hours contracts did not exist in many EU countries, the trend could not be explained by the rise in employment as the number of temporary and self-employed workers in Germany had fallen despite that country’s strong record on jobs, the report said.
The Resolution Foundation published its own analysis on self-employment back in February. It stressed that alongside looking at the rights of the self-employed, as the Taylor Review of Modern Employment is set to do, it is time to look at the tax regime for self-employment. It believes that government should reduce the incentive for people to be self-employed given the risks to the public finances.
Adam Corlett, Economic Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Rising self-employment has been the biggest jobs story of the last decade, accounting for almost half of all employment growth since the financial crisis.
“This growth has been controversial at times… as workers try to address the insecurity that often comes with self-employment.
“With the number of self-employed workers approaching five million, we need to start addressing some of the challenges it brings. This should include more security for workers at the bottom end of the market, but reforms should also reduce the unfair tax advantages that the wealthy self-employed particularly benefit from.”