• The proportion of employees who report less than good health increases with the number of negative aspects of job quality experienced.

  • Over 20% of employees with three or more negative aspects of job quality report less than good health, compared with 6% of employees who experience no negative aspects of job quality.

This chart shows the proportion of employees reporting that they have less than good health (on a scale of very good, good, fair or poor) by the number of negative aspects of job quality they experience. The quality of a job consists of a range of different aspects, such as the nature of the tasks in the job, the leeway available to perform these tasks, support from co-workers and management, pay levels and the presence of workplace hazards. This indicator applies measures used by Chandola and Zhang and is based on available data from the Understanding Society study. These are based on self-reported questions relating to autonomy, wellbeing, job security, satisfaction, as well as a measure on low pay. 

The percentage of those reporting less than good health increases with each additional negative job experience.  

  • For none or one negative job aspect, the proportion reporting poor or fair health is similar at 7% and 9%, respectively.  
  • The gradient sharpens for two negative job aspects (12% poor or fair) and three or more (21% poor or fair).

Despite 2010/11 to 2016/17 being a period of strong employment growth, there were no substantial improvements in job quality, based on the measures of this study. This highlights the need for an active strategy to improve the quality of work.

Apart from low pay, the chart constructs job quality indicators in line with the approach taken by Chandola and Zhang. Aspects of low-quality work are measured as follows. 

  • Low job satisfaction – employees who report feeling somewhat, mostly or completely dissatisfied with their job. 
  • Low job autonomy – across five dimensions of job autonomy, an average score indicating some (or a lot) of limitation. 
  • Job well-being – across six measures of emotional perceptions of jobs (whether it inspires feelings of tension, unease, worry, depression, gloom or misery), an average score indicating these feelings some, most or all the time. 
  • Job security – perception that job loss is either likely or very likely in the next 12 months. 
  • Low pay – earnings are below two-thirds of UK hourly median pay. 

The questions are asked of employees only (the self-employed are excluded) and are specific to each job they hold.

Source: University of Essex, Understanding Society, The UK Household Longitudinal Study, 2020

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