New kind of support required in multiple job holding to maintain work ability

When planning work ability support for those who hold multiple jobs, the specific features of multiple job holding should be taken into account more extensively than now. A survey and interview study conducted in the trade and the tourism and hospitality sectors shows that assessing the workload of those who hold multiple jobs and supporting their work ability are challenging tasks. Taking care of work ability is often the responsibility of the employee.
Kokki valmistelee keittiössä ruoka-annosta.

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health media release 8 April 2024

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health collected the research data with a digital survey and interviews. 1,746 members of Service Union United PAM responded to the survey. 254 respondents reported having held several jobs simultaneously over the past year. In addition to employees, representatives of employers, occupational health care services and occupational safety and health administration participated in the interviews.  

Multiple job holding is an option due to the combined effect of several different reasons  

Multiple job holding is an option for a variety of reasons. The decision to hold multiple jobs may be due to, for example, the lack of a full-time job, a desire for variety, changes in life situations or an attempt to have flexible working time. 

The vast majority of employees who responded to the survey and many of the interviewees would rather hold just one job. In the interviews, difficulties in recovering from work, concerns about livelihood and managing changing jobs, for example, were perceived as burdensome.

However, almost all of the interviewees were able to identify positive aspects of holding multiple jobs, such as the opportunity to choose satisfying work tasks, employers and work communities and to the possibility of advancing work careers.  

Varying support provided by workplaces 

According to employees, work ability and occupational safety support varies by workplace and often requires activity on the employee’s behalf. The interviewed employers estimate that they offer comprehensive support practices, but they also say that it is difficult to detect the deterioration of the work ability of a part-time employee or agency contract worker. The availability of occupational health care services also varies from workplace to workplace.  

The study recommends taking employees that hold multiple jobs into account in the workplace 

Supporting work ability and occupational safety requires mutual, long-term and comprehensive commitment, which is often not realized in the case of multiple job holding. Comprehensive support is challenging especially due to the lack of information and employer changes.

The current practices are designed from the perspective of permanent and full-time employment relationships, which do not meet the needs of employees holding multiple jobs. The importance of perceiving work ability is emphasized when holding multiple jobs. Employees themselves must be able to determine what kind of functional capacity and alertness the job requires, identify any signs of overload and assess their own competence in relation to the job demands. 

Work ability support practices and arrangements should be changed to better meet the needs of employees holding multiple jobs and support their well-being more effectively than currently. There should also be more information available about the occupational health care services offered. Some respondents did not know whether such services were offered. 

Multiple job holding may be an opportunity or a necessity 

Multiple job holding is also challenging for occupational health care service providers and occupational safety and health administration. Service providers may not be familiar with all the working conditions of many employees. The continuity and holistic nature of occupational health co-operation is complicated by employer changes. 

Occupational safety and health administration representatives identified the threat of high workload associated with long working hours. On the other hand, holding multiple jobs may also provide resources to the employees or it may be a financial necessity. In the interviews, the importance of protection of individuals and individual freedoms were identified, while the right of everyone to make a living was also considered important.  

Read the research report

Monimuotoinen ansiotyö: haaste työkyvyn tuelle ja työturvallisuudelle (in Finnish)

Further information 

  • Anu Järvensivu, Research Manager, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, tel. +358 (0)30 474 8604, anu.jarvensivu [at] (anu[dot]jarvensivu[at]ttl[dot]fi) 

Share content on social media!