More than a third of Scots working in 'low-quality' jobs

More than a third of workers in Scotland are employed in low-quality jobs that risk damaging their health, a new report has suggested.

Analysis by The Health Foundation found that 36 per cent of employees in Scotland - the equivalent of 830,000 workers - were engaged in jobs with perceived negative aspects such as low levels of autonomy, well-being, and security - as well as low pay.

The think-tank said such jobs were more likely to cause stress and other factors linked to poor health.

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The research, based on analysis of the most recent UK Household Longitudinal Study, goes beyond traditional indicators of job insecurity such as unemployment, self-employment or zero-hours contracts to explore workers’ perceptions of job quality.

The report found that young adults and workers outside the south of England were most likely to be affected
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Unemployment in Scotland remains at record low

The number of people in employment - defined by the UK Government as anyone who undertakes at least one hour of paid work per week - is at a record high, but trade unions and labour force experts have warned that increasing numbers of workers are relying upon precarious roles, with few of the benefits offered to those in permanent staff positions.

UK employment policy in recent years has largely focused on getting people into work. But the Health Foundation - an independent charity committed to improving health across the country - said the quality of work also needed to be addressed.

The research, based on interviews with 40,000 respondents across the UK, found that more than half (55 per cent) of employees under 25 years old report being in low-quality work, compared to around a third (33 per cent) of those aged 25 plus.

It found there was also significant geographical variations with Northern Ireland (42 per cent), the North East (40 per cent), and West Midlands (40 per cent) all reporting high-levels of low-quality work.

Adam Tinson, the report’s author, said: "These findings highlight the scale and persistence of low-quality work.

"Our choice of occupation shapes our health directly, and underpins other factors that matter for health such as our income or social networks.

"Low-quality work is where someone feels stressed and unfulfilled, whether that’s due to pay, insecurity, a lack of autonomy or a feeling of dissatisfaction. This can harm people’s health. It’s broader than roles that are temporary or with varying hours.

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"With the UK’s employment law set for review as it leaves the EU, there should be a particular focus on improving job quality in order to maintain and improve health. To boost job quality, employers should give greater consideration to job security, job design, management practices and the working environment."