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Sickness presenteeism among self-employed in Europe

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Author list: Nordenmark, Mikael;Vinberg, Stig
Publication year: 2019
Start page: 89
End page: 90
Number of pages: 2

Abstract

Health incidents often result in sickness absenteeism, i.e. the failure to report for work as scheduled. However, there is increasing evidence that workers more and more decide for another option: sickness presenteeism, defined as attending work while ill. This can be problematic for the individual and presenteeism creates costs for organizations and the society as well. European policymakers encourage individuals to become self-employed because it is a way to promote innovation and job-creation. The proportion of self-employed individuals in the employed labour force in Europe is around 15 percent. Most of the self-employed choose to become self-employed and have good working conditions and job quality. However, around 20 percent of the self-employed report that they have no alternative for work and they have lower levels of job quality and worse well-being compared to the former group of self-employed. In addition, earlier studies have indicated that self-employed have a high working pace and work many and irregular hours, indicating that it can be problematic and frustrating to stay at home because of illness. It can be assumed that health and well-being among self-employed and managers in small-scale enterprises is particularly crucial in this enterprise group due to that the smallness make them vulnerable. Self-employed is an interesting category when it comes to the phenomenon of sickness presenteeism. To our knowledge, there are few studies of sickness presenteeism among self-employed.AimThe aim of this paper is to study the occurrence of sickness presence among different groups of self-employed in relation to employees, and to analyze if possible differences between the groups can be explained by different psychosocial working conditions related to work demands and time pressure. Method: This study is based on the fifth European survey on working conditions (EWCS) 2015, which has become an established source of information on working conditions and employment in EU Member States. The independent variable – employment type consists of the categories self-employed (with and without employees) and employees. The main independent variable is sickness presence and is measured by the following question: Over the past 12 months did you work when you were sick (1=Yes, 0=No). Several indicators of work demands, time pressure and background variables are used in the description and regression analysis. Results: Results show that self-employed report a higher level of sickness presenteeism than employed; 52.4 verses 43.6 percent. The mean number of working hours is 43.5 among self-employed and 35.4 among employed. Self-employed have worked in the evenings on average nearly 7 days a month, which is more than twice as many times as for employees. It is also twice as usual that self-employed have worked on a Sunday compared to employees. Self-employed have on average worked in the free time once or twice a month and employees have on average worked on their free time less often. All the differences between self-employed and employed are90clearly significant and indicate a higher level of sickness presenteeism and time pressure among self-employed. The results show that self-employed have a significant higher risk for reporting sickness presence than employed have. This difference is explained by the variables measuring time pressure, which indicates that the self-employed have a higher risk of reporting sickness presenteeism because they experience more time pressure. Other results are that sickness presenteeism differ between groups of self-employed related to gender, company size, motives for self-employment and country groups.


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