Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2019-04-26

From Job Strain To Employment Strain: Health Effects Of Precarious Employment

Document type Article
Author Polanyi, Michael
Author Lewchuk, Wayne
Author de Wolff, Alice
Journal Just Labour: A Canadian Journal of Work and Society
Volume 3
Date 2003 Fall
Pages 23-35


This article examines the relationship between health and the organization of precarious employment. We develop the concept of "employment strain" to capture the characteristics of precarious employment. Preliminary evidence suggests that workers in precarious employment relationships report poorer overall health than working Canadians and higher levels of stress than workers in standard employment relationships. They face high levels of uncertainty regarding access to work, the terms and conditions of that work, and future earnings. They engage in additional effort searching for work and balancing the demands of multiple employers. They have low earnings, few benefits, and reside in low income households.