Atypical Employment and Mental Health in Late-Modern Societies – a Review

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 10:15
Location: Hörsaal 6B P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Lena HUNEFELD, Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Germany
Atypical employment such as part-time work, fixed-term employment and temporary agency work is a growing global phenomenon that affects more than 30% of the worldwide workforce (OECD 2015). The shifting towards atypical forms of employment is mainly driven by technological developments and an increasing intensity of competition in global markets.

As a result, the pressure on companies to adapt flexible to these ever-changing challenges can only be met by refraining from regular working contracts in favor of more dynamic working arrangements (Hohendanner & Bellmann, 2007; Walwei, 1995).

Atypical employment might be a helpful strategy to integrate unemployed persons into the labour market and to give them a new perspective. However, at the same time atypical employment is often associated with precarious labour/life situations and health impairments (Dütsch, 2011; Isaksson & Bellagh, 2002; Kvasnicka & Werwartz 2003). For example, several studies show that, compared to workers with permanent contracts, fixed-term and temporary agency workers are more likely to fall into lower income groups, receive only insufficient social support and that their work is often dominated by stressful working conditions like high job insecurity.

Within the scope of the research project „Mental Health in the Working World“ of the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), we systematically reviewed studies on atypical employment (including fixed-term employment, temporary agency workers, part-time employment, self-employment, and multiple job-holding) and its effects on various mental health outcomes. The results of our review show that there is an association between atypical employment forms and psychological morbidity. However, the results also indicate that the health risk of atypical employment must be evaluated separately for each form of atypical employment. We will present results of our systematic review and discuss the role of employment instability and stressful working conditions that go along with atypical employment in late-modern societies