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Precarious work and employment

McBride, Jo; Smith, Andrew


Andrew Smith


The increasing polarisation of the UK labour market means that work for many is marked by low-pay, irregular and variable working hours, with limited employment protections. This chapter contextualises contemporary precarious work and explores some of the deep-rooted causes. We critically examine central issues of low-pay and in-work poverty, where some workers need a multitude of jobs to make ends meet. Zero hours contracts are seen as a defining feature of precarious work, and the chapter assesses the lived realities of such ‘flexibility’ that can create acute precarity for some workers. We then examine how trade unions, key stakeholders and policy makers can alleviate precarious work. In the closing section, a future research agenda is set out to critically explore: the experiences of precarious work, making ends meet and the implications for work-life ‘balance’, trade union strategies and ‘good work’ agendas, and potential international and comparative research.

Online Publication Date Jun 11, 2024
Publication Date Jun 11, 2024
Deposit Date Jun 24, 2024
Publisher Edward Elgar Publishing
Book Title A Research Agenda for Work and Employment
Chapter Number 10
ISBN 978 1 80392 996 5
Public URL
Additional Information
Contract Date Jun 11, 2024