Exposure to temporary employment and job insecurity: a longitudinal study of the health effects

Virtanen, Pekka; Janlert, Urban; Hammarström, Anne
August 2011
Occupational & Environmental Medicine;Aug2011, Vol. 68 Issue 8, p570
Academic Journal
Objective This study analysed interactions between job insecurity and temporary employment and health. We tested the violation hypothesis (whether permanent employment increases the health risk associated with job insecurity) and the intensification hypothesis (whether temporary employment increases the health risk associated with job insecurity) in a longitudinal setting. Previous research on this topic is scarce and based on cross-sectional data. Methods A population cohort (n=1071) was surveyed at age 30 and age 42. Exposure to temporary employment during this 12-year period was elicited with a job-time matrix and measured as the score of 6-month periods. Exposure to job insecurity was measured according to the perceived threat of unemployment. Health at follow-up was assessed as optimal versus suboptimal self-rated health, sleep quality and mental health. In addition to sociodemographics and baseline health, the analyses were adjusted for exposure to unemployment, non-employment and self-employment during the 12-year period. Results 26% of participants had been exposed to temporary employment. The effect of job insecurity on health was the same in the exposed and unexposed groups, that is the violation hypothesis was not supported. Non-significant interactions between the exposures and all health outcomes also indicated null findings regarding the intensification hypothesis. Conclusions These findings suggest that perceived job insecurity can lead to adverse health effects in both permanent and temporary employees. Policies should aim to improve work-related well-being by reducing job insecurity. Efforts towards 'flexicurity' are important, but it is equally important to remember that a significant proportion of employees with a permanent contract experience job insecurity.


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