Publication - Research and analysis

Young people's experiences of precarious and flexible work – Main Report

The research report presents findings on young people's experiences of precarious and flexible work. These work conditions included where young people had for example zero hours contracts, low wages, lack of progression opportunities, dissatisfaction with current employment, or varying hours.

Young people's experiences of precarious and flexible work – Main Report
Appendix B – focus group topic guide

Appendix B – focus group topic guide

1. Introduction

  • Introduction to moderator/Progressive, MRS Code of Conduct, GDPR etc.
  • This research is being conducted on behalf of the Scottish Government who would like to understand your experience of different employment contracts and working conditions.
  • Explanation of rules of engagement: take part; not a test; no right or wrong answers; relax! If you're not comfortable answering any particular questions, just let me know and we can move on – and you're free to withdraw at any time.
  • Explain audio recording - permission should have been granted at recruitment stage

Timing: 5 Mins

Standard introduction

All GDPR information will have been provided at the recruitment stage but a reminder is given here

2. Warm up

  • Name, where you live?
  • Who lives at home with you?
  • Are you currently in full time or part time education?
  • What would be your ideal job?

3. Current Employment Status

  • What do you currently do? Where do you work? What is your role?
  • If not currently working: What work have you undertaken in the last 6 months?
  • Is this your main job? Do you have any other jobs?
  • Talk to me about why you work where you do/did? What made you decide to work there? [if multiple jobs ask specifically about the precarious position throughout discussion]
  • Job you wanted (e.g. in a desired sector / industry and willing to accept a trade-off in terms of working conditions)
  • Wanted the experience/sector interested in/stepping stone
  • Close to where I live – check if rural/urban?
  • Struggling to find work
  • Probe fully, why do you think this is? Did you feel like you had no option?
  • Pressured in to accepting
  • Probe fully, why did you feel like this? Who / what was pressuring you?
  • Financial pressures
  • Probe fully if comfortable, why did you feel like this?
  • Fits in with study / childcare / partners work
  • Lack of qualifications / experience to apply for other positions
  • Flexible (in general)
  • Probe fully, in what way

Probe on any differences/similarities between resp. Experiences - Why do you think this might be?

  • How did you find out about the job?

(P) Job centre

(P) Friend/family member/WOM

(P) Recruitment agency

(P) Job website

(P) Speculative application/ approach themselves

Timing: 15 Mins

RQ3

a. What are the circumstances whereby young people find themselves in precarious work/contractual conditions?

b. Do they choose them voluntarily or have no option?

4. Awareness of Contractual Status

Talk to me about your employment contracts? Do you have a contract? What types of things does it cover?

Moderator note: if resp. In similar sector/role/size of employer discuss differences and similarities in responses

  • Hours you work?
  • Level of pay? Showcard with ranges
  • Benefits you get? E.g. Sick pay, holiday pay
  • Holidays?
  • Days you work?
  • Notice period?
  • Notice given when changing hours from employer and to employer?

Do you have set contracted hours?

  • If yes: What are you contracted to work?
  • If yes: Do you tend to work more or less than your contracted hours?
  • If no: Do they vary? How much do they vary?

How do you know what hours you are working every week?

How much notice are you given regarding the hours you are working?

Do you feel pressured to take extra hours?

What happens when hours are changed at short notice?

How do you know about other aspects of your employment?

  • Written contract
  • Verbal agreement
  • Other?

Timing: 10 Mins

RQ2: To what extent are young people aware of their contractual status (e.g. whether they are on a ZHC)?

PROBES: From desk research review as characteristics of insecure employment

5. Experience of precarious working

What do you think about your employment contract / working conditions?

  • Happy with it?
  • Don't like it?
  • Put up with it?

If happy: Talk to me about why you are happy with it? What do you like about it? Write on flip chart a if possible

Moderator note: discuss any differences across group – do they agree/disagree with each other

  • Flexibility / fits in around other responsibilities (e.g. childcare, study)
  • Tops up main income
  • No commitment

If happy: Is there anything you don't like about your employment/working conditions? Write on flip chart b if possible

If not happy: Talk to me about why you are not happy with it? What do you not like about it? Write on flipchart b if possible

Moderator note: discuss any differences across group – do they agree/disagree with each other

  • Low pay
  • Lack of security/unstable
  • Lack of protection i.e. grievances, dismissal
  • Don't get paid for holidays or sickness?
  • Shifts change last minute
  • Feel pressured into taking on extra hours (probe: why do participants feel pressured – e.g. concern about loss of hours)
  • Lack of training/development/progression
  • Irregularity of hours per week/month
  • Can be hard to plan financially / Income unpredictable

If not happy: Is there anything you do like about your employment/working conditions? Write on flip chart a if possible

If put up with it: What is it about the role that makes you put up with it?

Timing: 25 mins

RQ4. What are the experiences of young people in a range of potentially precarious or flexible working conditions?

RQ5. Are there any particular disadvantages, challenges, advantages, opportunities etc. of different potentially precarious or flexible etc. of different potentially precarious or flexible working conditions?

Probes: From desk research review on advantages and disadvantages

6. Best and worst aspects

Ask all: If you were changing jobs what is the one key aspect of your most recent employment/working conditions that you would want to keep? Why?

  • Flexible hours / working from home
  • Ability to work more than one job
  • No commitment/ No contract
  • Varying hour
  • Anything else

Timing: 10 Mins

RQ6. What is it about the terms of employment that cause specific disadvantages? What type of contracts appear to be the most problematic and to whom?

Refer to flipchart B: A number of terms of employment/working conditions that you don't like have been mentioned. Across all of those mentioned which one causes the biggest issue:

Respondents to use 5 sticky dots each and place these next to their biggests issues - use however they want

  • Low pay
  • Lack of security/unstable
  • Lack of protection i.e. grievances, dismissal
  • Don't get given adequate hours
  • Don't get paid for holidays or sickness?
  • Shifts change last minute
  • Feel pressured into taking on extra hours
  • Lack of training/development/progression
  • Irregularity of hours per week/month
  • Add in others mentioned

Why did you choose those issues?

The top 5 issues appear to be XXXXXX – Why do you think this is?

Does anyone disagree with these? Why?

Give me examples as to how this impacts on your daily life?

  • Planning
  • Not being able to plan for social events / buy concert tickets / sports matches
  • Can't plan financially / can't save
  • Can't book holidays in advance
  • Cancel appointments last minute
  • Financial impacts
  • Not being able to get a mortgage
  • Not being able to apply to a letting agent
  • Not being able to buy what I want / go out for dinner / socialise
  • Other aspects
  • Struggle with organising childcare / other caring responsibilities
  • Struggle with studying
  • Anything else?

Refer to flip chart A: We have discussed a number of different characteristics and types of employment that you like about your employment/working conditions. Across everything mentioned which ones are the most positive/benefit from the most? Respondents to use 5 sticky dots each and place these next to the most positive aspects for them - use however they wish

  • Flexible hours / working from home
  • Ability to work more than one job
  • No commitment / No contract
  • Add in others mentioned

Why did you choose those as benefits?

The top 5 benefits appear to be XXXXXX – Why do you think this is?

Does anyone disagree with these? Why?

Thinking about young people, like yourselves, are there any particular groups of people that benefit from these types of precarious/flexible contracts?

  • Particular sector
  • Particular age
  • Lifestage
  • Lifestyle
  • Illness
  • Particular location / Where you live (e.g. in a city, town, in more rural areas)

What are the key things you would like improved in your most recent employment?

  • Pay / training / development opportunities / hours / given more or better notice of shifts

Timing: 15 minutes

RQ7

a. To what extent can different potentially precarious or flexible working conditions be considered as 'positive destinations' for young people

b. Which young people are benefitting? What are their specific working conditions?

7. Future employment

Do you want to change job in the next 12 months?

Why?

  • Better (e.g. more regular) hours / more hours
  • More secure employment /permanent position

Why not?

  • Happy
  • Lack of skills
  • Lack of jobs
  • Feeling stuck / lack of development / progression

Are there any other challenges that you think young people, like yourself in similar working positions will face when wanting to change job?

If wanting to change job, is there any information, advice or guidance that would help you do so?

MODERATOR NOTE: Probe specifically on the information they want against the reasons why/why not change job

  • Development opportunities
  • Work experience
  • Where to seek jobs
  • Basic employment rights

How would you prefer to receive this information, advice or guidance?

  • Online – websites
  • App / social media
  • Face-to-face

Can you tell me which organisations might provide face-to-face information/support?

Timing: 10 mins

RQ8

a. What are the barriers that prevent young people who want to change jobs from doing so?

b. Does this differ by contractual status (e.g. ZHC) or other potentially precarious or flexible?

RQ9

a. What (if any) type of information, advice and guidance do young people who want to change jobs require and what are their preferences for accessing this support (e.g. digital, online, face-to-face)?

b. Does this differ by contractual status (e.g. ZHC) or other potentially precarious or flexible

Desk Research Review: Possible types of information from this but too early to record these TBC

8. Summary

What words would you use to describe these positions we have discussed today e.g. contracts with no set hours, limited employment benefits etc.?

The types of contracts and working conditions we have been discussing today can be considered to be precarious, insecure, flexible working conditions. How do you view these precarious / flexible working conditions? Why?

  • Positive
  • Negative
  • Mixed opinion

Do you have any other comments about this type of employment contracts and working conditions that we have not covered off?


Contact

Email: youngpersonguar@gov.scot