Income and working hours
Feelings of job insecurity may, of course, relate to people's personal experiences in the workplace, their observations (of colleagues being made redundant, for example), and their concerns about the financial health of their employer. In 2010, the European Social Survey asked workers specifically about changes affecting their own job. This included questions about whether they "had to take a reduction in pay" or "had to work shorter hours" in the past three years. The answers show that just over a fifth (22 per cent) report that they have taken a reduction in pay over the past three years. Men who work full-time (25 per cent) and part-time2 (34 per cent) are more likely than women (16 per cent full-time,17 per cent part-time) to say this has happened to them (note that the figure for part-time men is based on a sample of fewer than 100). Reports of pay reductions accord with data from the Office for National Statistics showing a continuous fall in average basic earnings in real terms between mid-2008 and the end of 2009. Basic earnings also rose by less than the level of inflation during much of 2010 (Campos et al., 2011).
Reductions in pay will, in some cases, be a direct consequence of reductions in the number of hours worked, so it is also not surprising that 16 per cent of workers say that they have had to reduce their working hours in the past three years. This includes a third of men (32 per cent) and a quarter of women (26 per cent) who are working part-time; but only one in nine men (12 per cent) and women (11 per cent) working full-time.
Respondents were also asked to reflect on the adequacy of their current household income. The answers show that 40 per cent of people in paid employment feel they are "living comfortably" on their income, while another 45 per cent say that they are "coping". One in seven (14 per cent) report that it is "difficult" or "very difficult" to manage on their present income. These figures do not differ significantly from the results obtained in 2004.
We also wanted to find out if recent years had seen fewer or greater demands for night work, weekend working or short-notice overtime. In terms of personal wellbeing, unsocial working hours are known to have an especially negative impact on family relationships (Gallie and Russell, 2009). The European Social Survey asked how often respondents' work involved "working evenings or nights", "having to work overtime at short notice" or "working weekends". By comparing the answers given in 2004 and 2010 we find that, while people report an overall reduction in the working hours for which they are paid, there has been no reduction in the proportion expected to work unsocial hours, at least sometimes (Table 6.3). In fact, for women the proportions reporting that they ever work evenings, nights or weekends have increased, while there has been a modest reduction in the percentage of men who say they work at weekends. Overall, men remain much more likely than women to work unsocial hours.
- Download chapter
- British Social Attitudes and European Social Survey analysis excludes Northern Ireland, whereas OECD data are based on the whole UK. Various terms are used in this chapter to refer to people in paid work (for example, "workers", "people in paid work", and "employed people"). They all denote everyone who is either an employee or is self-employed, who usually works 10 hours or more a week, and who considers work to be their main activity.
- Part-time work was defined as working less than 35 hours per week.
- Bases for Table 6.5 are as follows:
- The fourth Work-Life Balance Employee Survey was conducted by NatCen Social Research for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
- This includes people who say they "always", "often", "sometimes" or "hardly ever" do this, but excludes those who say they "never" do.
- Related links