The role of nonstandard and precarious jobs in the well-being of disabled workers during workforce reintegration

Publication type
Journal article
Edmonds AT, Sears JM, O'Connor A, Peckham T
Date published
2021 May 01
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Open Access?

BACKGROUND: Nonstandard employment arrangements are becoming increasingly common and could provide needed flexibility for workers living with disabilities. However, these arrangements may indicate precarious employment, that is, employment characterized by instability, powerlessness, and limited worker rights and benefits. Little is known about the role of nonstandard and precarious jobs in the well-being of disabled persons during workforce reintegration after permanent impairment from work-related injuries or illnesses. METHODS: We used linked survey and administrative data for a sample of 442 Washington State workers who recently returned to work and received a workers' compensation permanent partial disability award after permanent impairment from a work-related injury. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to examine associations between nonstandard employment and outcomes related to worker well-being and sustained employment. We also examined associations between a multidimensional measure of precarious employment and these outcomes. Secondarily, qualitative content analysis methods were used to code worker suggestions on how workplaces could support sustained return to work (RTW). RESULTS: Workers in: (1) nonstandard jobs (compared with full-time, permanent jobs), and (2) precarious jobs (compared with less precarious jobs) had higher adjusted odds of low expectations for sustained RTW. Additionally, workers in precarious jobs had higher odds of reporting fair or poor health and unmet need for disability accommodation. Workers in nonstandard and precarious jobs frequently reported wanting safer and adequately staffed workplaces to ensure safety and maintain sustained employment. CONCLUSIONS: Ensuring safe, secure employment for disabled workers could play an important role in their well-being and sustained RTW