More people are working part-time or in temporary jobs than at any time since the start of the pandemic, with 70% of those working part-time doing so because they don’t want a full-time role.
According to new ONS data the number of part-timers in the UK has soared past eight million with the popularity of part-time work adding to the pressure on employers struggling to fill full-time roles, as job vacancies reach a record high. The total number working in part-time and temporary positions passed 9.8 million at the end of April.
The most recent ONS Labour Force Survey revealed that 70% of part-time workers did not want a full-time job. A further 14% of part-timers were students who fit work around their studies, 11% said they could not find a full-time job and 4% did part-time jobs because they were ill or disabled.
Not surprisingly given the demand for workers, the redundancy rate fell to a record low in the latest three-month period with the number of vacancies across the UK now at a record 1.3 million.
The figures show that the proportion of adults not seeking work – and classified as economically inactive – climbed to 21.3% in April, further exacerbating challenges for businesses hoping to add full-time staff to the roster.
Labour market news
Jobs site Indeed Flex suggested that the ONS figures support its own analysis that many workers are becoming increasingly interested in temporary, rather than permanent, jobs.
It said the number of workers signing up to its Indeed Flex platform to find temporary work was 178.5% higher in May 2022 compared with the same month last year.
The company claimed the figures showed that many temps were motivated by the desire to choose their working hours and the days they work. It added that the rising cost of living crisis may also be leading people to take on temporary work as a way to supplement their income.
ONS figures also showed that the number of workers with second jobs had been steadily increasing, with 5.8% more people having second jobs in March 2022 compared with the same month the previous year.
For a significant majority of part-time workers, it’s a lifestyle choice” – Novo Constare, Indeed Flex
An Indeed Flex survey of 1,000 workers on lower incomes found that 23% were currently looking for temporary work, while an additional 40% say they might start looking for temporary work within the next year.
A similar survey of younger people aged 18-24 with above average education levels found 29% were looking for temporary work and 37% might start looking for it within the next year.
Novo Constare, chief operating officer and co-founder of Indeed Flex, said the high popularity of part-time and temporary work was “piling extra pressure on employers”. He added: “Perhaps most striking of all is that for a significant majority of part-time workers, it’s a lifestyle choice. Seven out of 10 part-timers do so because they want to, not because they are unable to find a full-time job.
“Meanwhile as the cost of living crisis bites deeper, temping is increasingly appealing to those who already have a job but want to top up their income by taking on extra shifts elsewhere.
He added: “At the same time, temporary workers are proving a lifeline for the many businesses unable to find enough staff to fill their vacant roles. For them, temps offer an efficient way to cover staff absences and fill shifts at short notice.”
The ONS survey also found that wages had declined despite the tight labour market.