Civil society organisations are major employers in the UK with an estimated 2.3 million people employed as paid staff. This is equivalent to 7% of the total UK workforce in 2014 – more than the workforce of the NHS, the UK’s single largest employer (1.5 million employees), and same as for the construction industry (2.2 million employees).
Within civil society, voluntary organisations are the largest employer, employing 880,600 people – more than one-third of the estimated civil society workforce.
Research into working patterns across different sectors suggests that civil society organisations are a vital source of flexible employment in the UK, with a higher proportion of the workforce employed on part-time contracts than in public and private sectors. For instance, we know that in both general charities, and in sports clubs a high proportion of staff are part-time or sessional workers.