European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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15 October 2012

Quality of work among ageing workers: all are not equal

Older workers employed in unskilled and manual occupations and those working in certain service sectors risk suffering more from poor working conditions than other employees, according to a new study by the ETUI.

The study based on data from a 2010 European survey on working conditions looked at eight indicators of quality of work for eighteen different categories of jobs.

Amongst the manual workers (especially those working in construction, industry, cleaners, domestic helpers etc.) the authors observed declining general health conditions as these workers grow older. Back problems as well as sleeping disorders and a general dissatisfaction with working conditions characterises this risk group. Workers in the service sector (sales, personal care, etc.) are less exposed to poor working conditions itself but suffer more from work-life balance problems and psychological stress.

In their conclusion, the authors of the study recommend extreme caution as regards policies to extend working life and raise the age of retirement for all workers without distinction. They also call on employers to improve employment conditions for older workers and to consider innovative human resources management practices.

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