The health consequences of precarious employment experiences

Work. 2011;38(4):369-82. doi: 10.3233/WOR-2011-1140.


Objective: This study provides a test of a conceptual framework of the stress-related health consequences of "precarious" employment experiences defined as those associated with instability, lack of protection, insecurity across various dimensions of work, and social and economic vulnerability.

Methods: Data were drawn from the Canadian Survey of Labor and Income Dynamics (SLID), a nationally representative longitudinal labor-market survey (1999-2004). Logistic regression analysis estimated the impact of several dimensions of precarious employment on two health outcomes: low health status and low functional health.

Participants: For each calendar year we selected a subsample of individuals with close ties to the labor-market--i.e., aged 25 to 54, not full-time students, and employed at least 9 months of the year. We excluded individuals who were self-employed, those in management-level positions, and individuals who reported less than good health at the beginning of the year.

Results: Certain work characteristics (low earnings, the lack of an annual wage increase, substantial unpaid overtime hours, the absence of pension benefits, manual work) predict an increased risk of adverse general and/or functional health outcomes.

Conclusions: Proactive regulatory initiatives and all-encompassing benefits programs are urgently required to address emerging work forms and arrangements that present risks to health.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Employment / economics
  • Employment / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Employment / organization & administration
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health
  • Ontario
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Young Adult