Private sector service workers’ well-being before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

Maijaliisa Erkkola, Hanna M. Walsh, Tiina Saari, Elviira Lehto, Ossi Rahkonen, Jaakko Nevalainen

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Background: Workers attending to the essential functions of society have been most affected by COVID-19, but the well-being of workers outside the health care sector has scarcely been documented. We describe well-being profiles of Finnish blue-collar workers in private sector services and changes in their well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Altogether 6345 members of the Service Union United provided cross-sectional pre-COVID data in April-June 2019, and 2702 provided follow-up data on health-related indicators in November 2020. Job industry-specific profiles (retail, hospitality, and property maintenance) and change patterns were analysed. Regression models appropriate for different response types with a random intercept and time component were used. Results: Before COVID-19, the well-being profile − food security, body mass index, alcohol use, smoking, and self-perceived health, and adequacy of income − was worse among service workers than the population average and it varied by industry sector. During the first year of COVID-19 self-perceived health deteriorated (adjusted OR 0.78, 95% confidence interval 0.70-0.87). The proportion of severely food insecure fell from a third to a quarter (OR for improvement 2.66, 95% CI 2.37-2.99). Slight improvements were observed in heavy episodic drinking, smoking, and self-perceived adequacy of income. Employees in property maintenance were the most vulnerable regarding well-being profile and COVID-19-related changes. Conclusions: COVID-19 caused divergent changes, including improved food security and deteriorated self-perceived health. Workers with the lowest socioeconomic position and those facing job uncertainty were the most vulnerable to adverse outcomes. Provision of support to these groups is essential in welfare policy considerations.

TidskriftSocial Sciences and Humanities Open
Antal sidor8
StatusPublicerad - jan. 2023
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad

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© 2023 The Authors


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