One in three (36%) UK employees are in a low-quality job and could be putting their health at risk, a report reveals.
The analysis by the Health Foundation found people in low-quality jobs are much more likely to have poor health and are twice as likely to report their health is not good (15% compared to 7%).
The report, which is based on an analysis of the UK Household Longitudinal Study, defines a low-quality job as one which has two or more perceived negative aspects such as low levels of autonomy, wellbeing, security and/or satisfaction, as well as low pay.
Policy in recent years has largely focused on getting people into work, but the think tank argues that to improve health the quality of work also needs to be addressed. Stress – which can be caused by being in low-quality work – damages the body and builds over time.
The think tank said it is particularly concerning that half of people in low-quality work in 2010/11 were still in low-quality work six years later.
Some regions and population groups are disproportionately affected by low-quality work.
Over half (55%) of employees under 25 years old report being in low-quality work, compared to around a third (33%) of those aged 25 plus.
There are also significant geographical variations with Northern Ireland (42%), Wales (42%), the North East (40%), and West Midlands (40%) all having high levels of low-quality work.
Adam Tinson, the report’s author and senior analyst at the Health Foundation, said people’s choice of occupation shapes their health directly, and underpins other factors that matter for health such as income or social networks.
“To boost job quality, employers should give greater consideration to job security, job design, management practices and the working environment,” he added.