Is Casual Employment in Australia Bad For Workers’ Health?

Markus Hahn, Duncan McVicar, Mark Wooden

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Abstract

Objectives This paper assessed the impact of working in casual employment, compared with permanent employment, on eight health attributes that make up the 36-Item Short Form (SF-36) Health Survey, separately by sex. The mental health impacts of casual jobs with irregular hours over which the worker reports limited control were also investigated.

Methods Longitudinal data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey, over the period 2001–2018, were used to investigate the relationship between the eight SF-36 subscales and workers’ employment contract type. Individual, household and job characteristic confounders were included in dynamic panel data regression models with correlated random effects.

Results For both men and women, health outcomes for casual workers were no worse than for permanent workers for any of the eight SF-36 health attributes. For some health attributes, scores for casual workers were higher (ie, better) than for permanent workers (role physical: men: β=1.15, 95% CI 0.09 to 2.20, women: β=1.79, 95% CI 0.79 to 2.80; bodily pain: women: β=0.90, 95% CI 0.25 to 1.54; vitality: women: β=0.65, 95% CI 0.13 to 1.18; social functioning: men: β=1.00, 95% CI 0.28 to 1.73); role emotional: men: β=1.81, 95% CI 0.73 to 2.89, women: β=1.24, 95% CI 0.24 to 2.24). Among women (but not men), mental health and role emotional scores were lower for irregular casual workers than for regular permanent workers but not statistically significantly so.

Conclusions This study found no evidence that casual employment in Australia is detrimental to self-assessed worker health.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
Early online date08 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 08 Oct 2020

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