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How overall employment conditions affect employee health

Researchers at the University of Washington have shown in a new study that workers' health depends on overall employment conditions rather than on one or two factors. Workers in New Jersey should know that these conditions cover pay, the nature of the work, shift length, schedule flexibility and job security.

The authors of the study, with their backgrounds in environmental and occupational health, found that previous studies that focus on a single factor, such as pay, are not capturing certain elements that influence employee health. Many of these studies do not consider the different forms of employment, including gig economy jobs and jobs characterized by flexible employer-worker relationships.

The study involved about 6,000 working adults in the U.S. who responded to the General Social Survey between 2002 and 2014 regarding their physical and mental health. Researchers found that those in precarious jobs with short-term contracts and part-time hours as well as those in "dead-end" jobs, however well paid, would frequently report poor health on both counts. Gig workers and the self-employed reported poor mental health.

However, those in "optimistic precarious" jobs, which are jobs with a high level of both insecurity and empowerment, reported similar health to those in traditional employment positions. Secure scheduling, stable turnover and family leave policies also help improve employees' lives according to the report.

Employers will want to do all they can for employees' health because poor health can increase the risk for occupational injuries. Those who are injured are eligible for benefits under workers' compensation law, provided that employers have the insurance. These benefits may cover medical expenses and some of the wages that victims lose. To file for them, it's not necessary to prove that the employer or anyone else was at fault; still, victims may want a lawyer to assist with the process.

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