A new study suggests that as many as 3.2 million Britons are in ‘precarious jobs’ – which sometimes offer no sick pay, holiday pay, redundancy pay or protection from unfair dismissal.

The research comes from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and suggests that the number of UK workers who are in ‘gig economy’ careers – and are denied basic employment protection as a result – has ballooned in recent years.

TUC said that workers on controversial ‘zero hours contracts’ are earning £3.80 an hour (34 per cent) less than an average employee, while almost half a million gig economy workers have no legal right to sick pay.

‘Casual workers’ are paid 40 per cent less than average employees, and those classed as ‘self-employed’ or ‘independent contractors’ working under companies such as Uber and Deliveroo usually have no rights to paid holiday or the minimum wage, TUC said.

Their study also found that ‘self-employed’ workers now earn 40 per cent less than average employees, up from just 28 per cent a decade ago.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Gig economy workers face the double hit of poverty wages and weaker employment rights.

“Insecure work has exploded in the past decade. In far too many cases, the only people who’ve benefited are bad bosses. Sports Direct can’t be the employment model for the 2020s.

“Whether they’re waiting tables or driving for Uber, all workers deserve respect, fair pay and basic protections”.

Earlier this year, a landmark employment case found that two Uber drivers from London should be deemed ‘workers’ as opposed to ‘self-employed’, after a Tribunal ruled that Uber exercised significant control over them, while wrongfully denying them the basic rights which they would be entitled to as ‘workers’.

The ruling has been described as a “monumental victory” for employment rights.