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Good work in the COVID-19 recovery: priorities and changes for the future

By Melda Lois Griffiths, Benjamin J Gray, Richard G Kyle, Alisha R Davies

Posted 31 Jan 2022
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2022.01.31.22270163

Employment is a wider determinant of health, and the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted working lives, with individuals having to adapt to new ways of working. These new experiences may shape what kind of work people want in future. This research used a sample of working adults in Wales to identify the workforce's priorities for future work, and the employment changes that they have considered making since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data was collected at two time-points (May-June 2020; December 2020-January 2021) in a nationally-representative longitudinal household survey across Wales. Work priorities remained largely stable throughout the pandemic, however the desire to work close to home increased as the pandemic progressed. Those in poorer health prioritised flexibility, and were more likely to consider retiring than their healthier counterparts. Becoming self-employed was more likely to be considered by those with limiting pre-existing conditions or low mental well-being. Over 20% of the total sample had considered retraining, with those with low mental well-being, younger individuals and those experiencing financial insecurity being more likely to consider doing so. Furloughed individuals were more likely to consider retraining, becoming self-employed, securing permanent employment and compressing their working hours. Those prone to facing insecurity within their working lives (those that were furloughed, those experiencing financial insecurity, and those in ill-health) were all more likely to consider changing their employment conditions - these groups may require additional support in accessing secure and flexible work. Action is needed to ensure that good work, that is good for health, is equally accessible for all.

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