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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Psychosocial and other working conditions in relation to employment arrangements in a representative sample of working Australians Louie, Amber Maureen


Objective: To understand empirically-derived employment categories in relation to job strain, effort/reward ratio, job hazards and other working conditions. Method: A cross-sectional population-based survey was conducted by telephone from a random sample of White Pages listings in the state of Victoria, Australia (n = 1,101). I defined current employment arrangements in terms of work characteristics, and then compared eight employment categories in terms of socio-demographics, self-reported job insecurity and other working conditions. Using logistic regression I determined job strain and effort/reward ratio across these categories. Results: Eight mutually exclusive employment status categories showed significant and consistent differences in work characteristics, socio-demographics and perceived job insecurity. Using the "other self-employed" (not working alone) as the reference category and adjusting for age and education, job strain was positively associated with permanent fulltime (Odds Ratio [OR] = 4.11), permanent part-time (OR = 4.95), and casual part-time employment (OR = 4.08) in women but not in men. Job strain was positively associated with casual full-time (OR - 4.66) and labour hire (OR = 4.36) employment in men but not women. Men who were employed permanent full-time demonstrated the only significant odds for high effort/reward ratio (OR=3.92). Significant differences were also found between proportions across employment categories in terms of job hazards, shift work, excessive working hours and multiple job holding. Discussion/Conclusions: Overall, this study revealed an association between precarious employment and unhealthy working conditions. While other studies tend to oversimplify non-permanent categories of employment, I found prominent differences in working conditions between casual, fixed term contract and labour hire employees. The empirically-derived and mutually exclusive categories provide greater discriminatory power than previously used classifications and may be of use to government agengies, policy makers and researchers. The use of multiple measures of occupational stress and hazard exposure also revealed a complex picture within particular job categories, demonstrating concentrations of exposures in certain groups. Further, more refined analysis that considers the gendered patterns revealed in this study would help us understand the differential impact of policies, programs and modern production organisation on workers in relation to employment arrangements and social context.

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