Underemployment and uncertainty of work lies behind part-timers.

Shifting work.

Workforce management app Deputy has said analysis shows British shift workers only work an average of 99 hours per month, which is far lower than the full-time equivalent of 164 hours. The UK Shiftwork Index says that while many shift workers choose to work part-time hours, there is a significant gap between different employment statuses, amid concerns of underemployment and workplace uncertainty. 896,000 hourly-paid workers in the UK are on zero-hours contracts, which have been widely criticised for their potential to exploit workers. These contracts are often with the worker’s primary employer and their main source of income. According to ONS figures for April to June 2019, 26.5 per cent of these zero-hours contract workers are classed as underemployed, stating they are looking for more hours.

The index, informed by analysis of 24 million shift hours worked by over 200,000 British shift workers using the Deputy app, also shows that two-thirds (65 per cent) of organisations employing shift workers now run a 24 hour workforce.

This emphasises how sectors including retail, hospitality, logistics and healthcare, with high dependency on hourly-paid shift workers, are running around-the-clock operations to satisfy customer demand and increase business efficiency. According to the TUC, over three million Brits regularly work through the night.

Other key findings in the UK Shiftwork Index include:

  • Millennials – those born between 1981 and 1995 – now make up nearly half (48 per cent) of the British shift working population, followed by Generation Z (30 per cent): those in the workforce born from 1996 onward.
  • The average age of a female British shift worker is 27 whilst the male average is 29 years old.
  • The most common British shift start time is 8:00am, and the most common clock-off time is 4:00pm. Average shift length in the UK is 7.3 hours – longer than 6.7 hours in the US and 6.6 hours in Australia.
  • Reflecting the hospitality industry’s dependency on shift workers, the most shift hours worked in the UK are on a Friday.
  • The busiest day of work for UK shift workers in the past year was Friday, 14th June – the day England beat Argentina 1-0 in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“Shift workers are the backbone of the UK economy and our findings show a high percentage of businesses now operate around the clock,” said David Kelly, general manager for EMEA at Deputy. “But despite this dependency, there is a big squeeze on labour, making it harder for organisations to find, keep and engage employees. Innovative businesses are therefore using new tools and technologies to deploy, pay and recognise the great work done by their staff.’’

The full findings can be accessed in Deputy’s UK Shiftwork Index here.


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