A university professor has called on the government to make creating good quality work a ‘reality not a pipedream’ after a study found that unemployment was better for workers’ health than some jobs in the UK.
The study of 1,116 unemployed adults by the University of Manchester, compared health and stress levels of those remaining unemployed with those transitioning to different quality jobs.
It measured the adults’ chronic stress-related biomarkers such as body fat, blood pressure, insulin and cholesterol levels.
It then assessed levels of job quality based on three dimensions – earnings, labour market security and quality of the working environment.
The adults aged 35 to 75 years were asked to score out of five, how far they had felt tense/uneasy/worried/depressed/gloomy/miserable about a job in the past week, with five being ‘all of the time’.
They were also asked how much influence they feel they have over their tasks and working hours – low autonomy being a stressor that can affect health.
Results showed that two or more adverse job measures produced worse health and wellbeing outcomes than peers who remained unemployed.
It found the highest levels of all the ill health indicators for adults who transitioned into poor quality work.
Tarani Chandola, professor of medical sociology at the university, said: "Working in a terrible job does all sorts of negative things to your health and wellbeing right now. And although there is a lot of research showing just how bad it is for a person’s physical and mental health to work in a poor quality job compared to someone in a good quality job, most people assume at least the person in a terrible job is better off than someone unemployed."
He said he hoped the study would highlight just how important it is to create better work for people.
“With the publication of Matthew Taylor’s review of modern work practices, the importance of good quality work should be high on the government’s agenda,” he said.
However, he said that even Taylor had made a mistake in saying that the “worst work status for health is unemployment”.
“Our research shows that is not necessarily the case, and our findings, together with more research in this area, should be considered carefully as strategies are hopefully developed to make his call to “make all work good” a reality not a pipedream, especially in the current political climate.”
To read the full study published in International Journal of Epidemiology click here
By Belinda Liversedge on 26 July 2021
93 per cent of firms plan to adopt hybrid working models, according to a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) report.
By Belinda Liversedge on 13 July 2021
Experience has taught us that we can’t guarantee people will behave responsibly to prevent Covid transmission and wear masks, the chair of the British Safety Council has warned.
By Belinda Liversedge on 12 July 2021
The success of a pilot to trial the four-day working week in Iceland should be noted by other governments, the think tank which led the project has said.