Temporary contracts

Date 1 September 2017
Date updated 6 October 2017

Temporary contracts

What does this chart show?

This graph shows the number of workers who are on temporary contracts and the number of workers who are on temporary contracts who could not find a permanent position. It also shows the proportion of temporary workers who are involuntarily on temporary contracts and those on temporary contracts as a proportion of all workers in employment.

In 2016, the number of workers in London on temporary contracts was at an all-time high at 260,000. This is 55,000 more than in 2004 when the number of temporary workers was 200,000.* Despite the growth in workers on temporary contracts, the proportion of all workers in London who are on temporary contracts has remained remarkably consistent since 2004 when it was at 5.8%, nearly the same proportion as in 2016 when it was at 5.7%. The total number of workers has grown at the same rate as the number of temporary workers.

Temporary contracts are potentially a precarious form of employment, though some people might want the flexibility. This is why it is important to look at the number of workers who are on temporary contracts because they could not get a permanent job. The proportion of people on a temporary contract because they cannot find permanent work has increased as a share of all temporary contracts. One-third (32.8%) of temporary workers were on a temporary contract due to being unable to find a permanent position. This is 9.4 percentage points higher than in 2004 when the proportion was 23.4%.

The proportion of involuntary temporary workers increased significantly between 2008 and 2009, from 22.9% to 30.1%. During the recession it fluctuated with a peak of 35.6% and now stands at 32.8%. If employment continues to rise it is possible that the number of people on involuntary contracts will continue to fall as these workers find permanent positions.

* This difference is due to rounding.