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Occup Environ Med 60:948-953 doi:10.1136/oem.60.12.948
  • Original article

From insecure to secure employment: changes in work, health, health related behaviours, and sickness absence

  1. M Virtanen1,
  2. M Kivimäki1,
  3. M Elovainio2,
  4. J Vahtera1,
  5. J E Ferrie3
  1. 1Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Department of Psychology, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, FIN-00250 Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health, PO Box 220, 00531 Helsinki, Finland
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 1–19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M Virtanen
 Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Department of Psychology, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, FIN-00250 Helsinki, Finland; marianna.virtanenoccuphealth.fi
  • Accepted 17 December 2002

Abstract

Aims: To determine whether change in employment status (from fixed term to permanent employment) is followed by changes in work, health, health related behaviours, and sickness absence.

Methods: Prospective cohort study with four year follow up. Data from 4851 (710 male, 4141 female) hospital employees having a fixed term or permanent job contract on entry to the study were collected at baseline and follow up.

Results: At baseline, compared to permanent employees, fixed term employees reported lower levels of workload, job security, and job satisfaction. They also reported greater work ability. All fixed term employees had a lower rate of medically certified sickness absence at baseline. Baseline rate ratios for those who remained fixed term were 0.64 (95% CI 0.55 to 0.75), and were 0.50 (95% CI 0.34 to 0.75) for those who later became permanent. Continuous fixed term employment was not associated with changes in the outcome measures. Change from fixed term to permanent employment was followed by an increase in job security, enduring job satisfaction, and increased medically certified sickness absence (compared to permanent workers rate ratio 0.96 (95% CI 0.80 to 1.16)). Other indicators of work, health, and health related behaviours remained unchanged.

Conclusion: Receiving a permanent job contract after fixed term employment is associated with favourable changes in job security and job satisfaction. The corresponding increase in sickness absence might be due to a reduction in presenteeism and the wearing off of health related selection.

Footnotes