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Sixty years of Britain at work

In a special Work Audit report published to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has looked at how work in Britain has changed since 1952.

 

The report finds that:

  • There are at present some 29 million people in employment in the UK, six million more than in the 1950s, but there has been no increase in the total number of hours worked each week. The UK has thus undergone a process of informal ‘work-sharing’ since the 1950s with a fall of ten hours in the length of the average working week. In the 1950s only 4% of people worked part time; 60 years later the proportion is one in four (6.5 million employees).
  • Although available evidence currently shows a high overall level of job satisfaction in British workplaces, only a small minority of employees say they would ‘go the extra mile’ for their employer, while reported rates of work-related stress have increased in the latter decades of the Queen’s reign. The rapid advance of digital information technology in the workplace has created opportunities for greater employee autonomy, including scope to do more work from home, but also resulted in information overload, blurred the boundaries between work and non-work time and enabled more sophisticated monitoring and surveillance of employees.
  • Whereas 60 years ago well over two-thirds of people in paid work were men – and virtually all men of working age had a job - the male share of employment has fallen to 53%. While the female working age employment rate has risen from 46% to 66% since the late 1950s, the male employment rate has fallen from 96% to 75%.
  • In 1952 there were 9.5 million members of UK trade unions (40% of employees). By 2011 that number had fallen to 6.5 million (26% of employees).

 

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