07 July 2017
Workers on zero-hours contracts are at an increased risk of suffering from mental health problems than peers with stable jobs.
This is according to findings from the Next Steps study of over 7,700 25-year-olds, which is being conducted by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at the University College London’s Institute of Education (IOE).
People on zero-hours contracts, the unemployed reported more symptoms of both physical and mental ill health compared with peers in secure employment, while shift workers had more psychological problems.
Nearly a quarter of the participants worked shifts (23%), while 5% had zero-hour contracts, 12% were part-time, and 7% were unemployed.
Lead Author of the study Dr Morag Henderson said: “One explanation for these findings is that financial stress or the stress associated with having a low-status job increases the risk of poor mental health. It may also be that the worry of having no work or irregular work triggers physical symptoms of stress, including chest pain, headaches and muscle tension.”
Craig Thorley, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, said: “Efforts to improve the UK’s mental health must recognise the important relationship between health and work. More people than ever are working on zero-hours contracts in the UK, and this new data shows this to be contributing to poorer mental health among young workers.
“Government and employers must work together to promote better quality jobs which enhance, rather than damage, mental health and wellbeing. Without this, we risk seeing increased demand for mental health services, reduced productivity, and more young people moving on to out-of-work sickness benefits.”