Union Coverage for Non-standard Workers in Britain

Publication type

Conference Paper


The Future of Work Workshop


Publication date

September 25, 2001


Using representative data from the British Household Panel Survey for the period 1991-1997, we document the extent of union coverage across standard and non-standard workers in Britain. Non-standard employment is defined in terms of contracts, places, times, and hours of work. We find significant gender differences in the extent of union coverage across various forms of non-standard work, and we also find that women across nearly all types of non-standard jobs are significantly less likely to be union-covered than women in regular employment. However for men, this negative relationship is only found for men working on fixed term contracts, in more than one place, or non-standard hours (that is, fewer than 30 hours per week). We also find there has been no expansion of union coverage towards any type of non-standard employment in the 1990s. Thus unions have not been successful so far in their 'strategy of enlargement' - at least with our data. Finally, we find significant differences in the relationship between non-standard work and union coverage in the private and public sectors.

Related Publications



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest