European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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28 March 2017

Work is good for your health? Only one French person in four thinks so

On 16 March, the French trade union federation, the CFDT (Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail), published the initial results of a broad-ranging online survey about work. Only a quarter of the respondents feel that their work is ‘good’ for their health.

Between 22 September and the end of December 2016, around 200 000 people responded to an online questionnaire about various aspects of their working lives. The results of the survey reveal how a large sector of the French population have an ambivalent attitude towards work. Although more than three out of four respondents say that they ‘like their work’, and indeed more than half ‘enjoy’ it, only a quarter think that it is ‘good’ for their health.

One third of the respondents consider their work to be physically demanding (heavy loads, uncomfortable postures, noise, excessive temperatures, etc.). How the link between health and work is perceived is heavily influenced by socio-economic factors.

The trade union survey shows that there is a gulf between manual workers and managers, and between the low paid and the highly paid: 20% of workers who earn €1 500 or less a month consider that their work is ‘damaging’ to them. Some 25% of manual workers share this opinion, compared with less than 5% of managers.

Here is another worrying figure: 12% of respondents think they are ‘treated badly’ at work. People with poor working conditions (doing things they find objectionable, unnecessary or mindless, without any sense of pleasure) are more frequently low skilled and in a low-grade job. There are three times more manual workers than managers in this situation.

The survey also covers the impact of work on mental health: 35% of respondents say their work interferes with their sleep; 36% have been subject to psychological harassment at work; 36% believe they have suffered from burnout in their working life.

Almost half (43%) of those taking part in the survey were CFDT members. It is also worth mentioning that the majority of respondents were women (59%), workers on permanent contracts (58%) and in the age range from 30 to 49 years old (53%).

For further information, please visit theParlons travail’web page 

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